Mali’s ‘Black Panther’ Salif Keita dies, aged 76

Salif Keita, the former Mali, Marseille, and Saint-Etienne attacker, passed away at the age of 76 on Saturday, as confirmed by the country’s sports minister to media.

Minister Abdoul Kassim Ibrahim Fomba stated that Keita had peacefully passed away in the capital city of Bamako, which was also his birthplace.

Keita retired in 1980 after a succesful club career in France.

“The world of sport in Mali and particularly football pass on their condolences to Salif Keita’s family and also the Malian nation,” the Malian football federation (FEMAFOOT) said on Twitter, which has been rebranded as ‘X’.

Keita clinched the French league championship thrice with Saint-Etienne and secured the French Cup on two occasions.

“The Black Panther has left us, taking a part of our club with him,” Saint-Etienne said in a statement on social media.

Following his departure from Saint-Etienne, Keita transitioned to Marseille, later making a move to Valencia in Spain and Sporting Lisbon in Portugal, concluding his club career in the United States.

In representing his nation, he made his debut at the age of 16 and was a member of the squad that secured a second-place finish in the 1972 African Cup of Nations.

In 1970, he became the inaugural recipient of the African Ballon D’Or, and he even featured in a film of the same name, loosely based on his life story, which was released in 1994.

In 1991, he served as a delegate minister in Mali’s government for a year, and in 2005, he was elected as the president of FEMAFOOT.

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