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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
African legends: Rabah Madjer
Peter Law
travels back in time to bring you the heroes of yesteryear

Rabah Madjer in actionduring his playing days
Madjer is Algeria's best-known player

Rabah Madjer became one of the best forwards in world football during the 1980s, earning fame and honours with FC Porto while helping Algeria become one of the top sides in Africa.

A stylish and elegant footballer, Madjer enjoyed a long and fruitful career before twice being appointed manager of his country.

He began his career at Algiers-based club NA Hussein Dey, and got his first call-up to the national side for the 1980 African Nations Cup in Nigeria.

Although the Desert Warriors lost 3-0 to the hosts in the final, their progress was confirmed when they reached the quarter-finals of the 1980 Olympic football tournament in Moscow.

Two years later at the World Cup finals in Spain, Madjer scored the opening goal as Algeria stunned the world with a 2-1 victory over West Germany, then the European champions.

Sadly, the North Africans were cruelly edged out of the tournament on goal difference, after a shamefully contrived result in the final match between West Germany and Austria.

Madjer led his country to their first African Nations Cup title

Following Madjer's impressive displays in Spain, a number European clubs were eager to sign him on.

But the Algerian federation intially refused to sanction the international transfer of players under the age of 25.

Madjer threatened strike action but the matter was eventually resolved and he joined Racing Club of Paris, then in the French second division.

Better fortune accompanied his move to FC Porto of Portugal, where he was part of a championship-winning side.

That was capped by Algeria's qualification for the 1986 World Cup, with Madjer and his colleagues making history as the first African side to qualify for two finals in succession.

But in a tight pool that included Brazil, Northern Ireland and Spain, the Desert Warriors failed to record a single victory.

However, the 1986/87 season was more productive for Madjer, as FC Porto reached their first European Cup final, playing Bayern Munich in Vienna.

Trailing 1-0 until late in the game, he conjured an audacious back-heeled equaliser, before creating a late winner.

Months later, he scored the winner against Uruguayan side Penarol in the World Club Championship and ended the season by being named African Footballer of the Year.

Impressed with his prolific form, Valencia signed the Algerian but after half-a-season in the Spanish league, he returned to FC Porto.

Madjer's 14 goals helped FC Porto to another Portuguese league title in 1990 but the main event of his year took place in Algeria.

Now captain of the national team, Madjer led his country to their first and only African Nations Cup title, beating Nigeria 1-0 in the final.

After his crowning moment of international glory, Madjer went into management and became the assistant coach of the national side.

Madjer with Zinedine Zidane, a French player of Algerian parentage
Madjer managed Algeria against France

He assumed full control of the side between 1993 and 1995 but failed to take the team to the 1994 World Cup and the Nations Cup finals in the same year.

Incessant conflict with Algeria's football authorities forced Madjer to quit and he returned to FC Porto to oversee youth development.

He also went into club management in Qatar before returning for another stint as Algeria manager.

His team's performance at the 2002 Nations Cup was a disappointment, as Algeria failed to get past the group stage.

But this string of defeats, including a 4-1 loss to France in a friendly, made Madjer quit his post and vow that he was severing his ties with the national team for good.

Many Algerians hope that his statement was made in a momentary fit of pique, as the legend's knowledge could help the Desert Warriors return to the forefront of the African game.

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