Johannesburg - Christopher Katongo has been named BBC African Footballer of the Year after leading outsiders Zambia to 2012 Cup of Nations glory in Gabon.
The 30-year-old striker skippered Chipolopolo (The Copper Bullets) to victories over Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan and Ghana before they pipped Ivory Coast in a penalty shoot-out in the final.
Nobody outside the landlocked southern Africa country gave Zambia a chance of winning the greatest prize in African football but China-based Katongo played with an unquenchable spirit that rubbed off on his team-mates.
Katongo topped a worldwide poll among BBC viewers, listeners and Internet users, beating Ivory Coast duo Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure, Moroccan Younes Belhanda and Demba Ba of Senegal.
"This is a fantastic moment for me. I thank the people who voted for me. It is something I will never forget in my career," the humble, widely respected Katongo told the BBC.
Katongo fell out of the race to be voted CAF African Footballer of the Year after making the final 10. The winner will be named on Thursday in Accra, with Drogba, Toure and Cameroonian Alex Song the finalists.