A former football glory has passed away. Malian footballer Salif Keita, who played for Saint-Etienne and Marseille in the 1970s, died on Saturday September 2 at the age of 76, the Malian Minister of Sports announced to AFP.
Salif Keita “died yesterday Saturday morning in a private hospital in Bamako. His family is in consultation to set the day and time of the burial,” said a Malian football official, Salaha Baby.
This slender player, with a feline appearance and gifted with unparalleled technique, was one of the greatest attackers of his generation. In five years spent with the Greens, he would win three French Championships (1968, 1969, 1970) and lift two French Cups (1968, 1970). “If he had been born in a great football country, he would have been the equal of Pelé,” his coach Albert Batteux said of him. The African also had the opportunity to face "the King" during a gala meeting between the Brazilian club Santos FC and a friendly "ASSE-OM" in Colombes (Hauts-de-Seine) in 1971 .
The first winner of the African Ballon d'Or in 1970, Salif Keita began his career in Mali, at Real Bamako then at Stade Malien before arriving at Saint-Etienne in 1967, at the age of 23.