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Malian Football Icon Salif Keita ‘Black Panther’ dead at 76

Bamako.

Former Mali football legend, Marseille and Saint-Etienne attacker Salif Keita died aged 76 on Saturday, the country’s sports minister told AFP.

Minister Abdoul Kassim Ibrahim Fomba said Keita passed away in the captial city Bamako, where he was also born.

Keita retired in 1980 after a successful 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 won the French league title three times with Saint-Etienne and 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.

After leaving Saint-Etienne, Keita joined Marseille and then moved to Valencia in Spain, Sporting Lisbon in Portugal before ending his club career in the United States.

For his country, he made his debut as a 16-year-old and was part of the squad which finished second in the 1972 African Cup of Nations.

In 1970 he won the first African Ballon D’Or and even acted in a film with the same name, loosely inspired by his story, which came out in 1994.

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

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