Nigeria has produced so many nice gamers over the many years, however who’re the stand-out footballers to have ever come out of the football-mad nation.
On this article, we check out the highest 10 best gamers in Nigeria’s storied soccer historical past.
10. Christian Chukwu
Fondly often known as ‘The Chairman‘, Christian Chukwu is among the all-time nice defenders, leaders and pioneers in Nigerian soccer.
Chukwu captained the nationwide crew to its first win on the Africa Cup of Nations in 1980, rising as one of the best participant within the event.
He additionally performed a key function within the nation’s second success 14 years later, as he assisted Dutchman Clemens Westerhof because the Tremendous Eagles received the continental title in Tunisia 1994.
Chukwu was a pressure within the home league again within the day, captaining Enugu Rangers throughout their formidable years of the 70s and 80s.
With Rangers, the dynamic participant received the Problem Cup 4 instances (1975, 1976, 1981 and 1983), and added the 1977 Africa Cup Winners’ Cup title to his assortment.
9. Joseph Yobo
Being a defender, Joseph Yobo might not command the identical consideration as a few of the ahead gamers on this listing, however the former skipper stays one of many best gamers to placed on the inexperienced and white of Nigeria.
Apparently, Yobo started his profession as a ahead participant, whereas he additionally performed in midfield at instances in his early years, however as he matured as a footballer, he discovered his true calling within the backline.
He performed at proper again on his World Cup debut in 2002, notably notching an help with a superb cross for Julius Aghahowa within the second group match towards Sweden, but it surely was at centre again that he blossomed as a participant and chief.
With 101 Worldwide caps, Yobo belongs to the very unique firm of Nigerian centurions. A distinguished profession noticed him take part at three World Cups and 6 AFCON tournaments, famously captaining the facet to continental glory in South Africa 2013.
At membership degree, Yobo performed in Belgium, France, Spain and Turkey, however he’s most remembered for his work at Everton, the place he remodeled 200 senior appearances.
8. Teslim Balogun
New era soccer followers might not know a lot about Teslim Balogun, however this man was one of many nice pioneers of Nigerian soccer.
Nicknamed Thunder due to his highly effective shot, Balogun represented the Nigerian nationwide crew between 1948 and 1960, whereas he additionally performed for various golf equipment on the native scene.
He famously received the Problem Cup 5 instances, and was the primary participant to attain a hat-trick within the competitors.
Balogun additionally had spells in the UK, signing for Peterborough United in 1955, whereas he additionally performed for Queens Park Rangers.
He’s famend for being the primary African to qualify as knowledgeable coach, and led the nation’s soccer crew to the 1968 Olympics.
Balogun handed on in 1972, aged 45, however his legacy lives on. The Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos is called in honour of the nice man.
7. Rashidi Yekini
Arguably the best No. 9 in Nigerian soccer historical past, the legendary Rashidi Yekini fittingly scored the nation’s first ever purpose on the World Cup.
That purpose towards Bulgaria at USA 1994 was simply one of many 37 Yekini scored in his 62 appearances for the Tremendous Eagles.
Other than the 1994 World Cup, Yekini additionally featured at France 1998, whereas he was prime scorer and participant of the event in Nigeria’s Nations Cup successful crew in Tunisia 1994.
Yekini banged within the targets in every single place he went, netting over 100 targets for Taking pictures Stars and Abiola Babes within the 80s, and scoring an excellent 105 targets in 113 appearances for Ivorian facet, African Sports activities.
He made his mark in Europe with Portuguese membership, Vitoria Setubal, whereas he additionally performed in Switzerland, Greece, Spain and Saudi Arabia.
The nice man sadly handed on in 2012, aged solely 48.
6. John Mikel Obi
With two Premier League titles, three FA Cup titles, and two European triumphs with Chelsea (UEFA Champions and Europa League), John Mikel Obi is among the most embellished footballers in Nigerian soccer historical past.
Mikel was a mainstay within the Tremendous Eagles midfield for over a decade, notably inspiring the crew to AFCON glory in 2013- the identical yr he was runner-up within the prestigious African Footballer of the 12 months award.
Earlier than his days with the senior crew, Mikel was already a star at junior degree, notably ending because the second finest participant (behind Lionel Messi no much less!) on the FIFA World Youth Championship within the Netherlands in 2005.
Mikel was initially seen by Nigerian followers because the pure inheritor to Jay Jay Okocha, however he would discover his personal identification within the crew, combining his soccer intelligence together with his neat vary of passing to change into the center of the Eagles midfield at his prime.
He didn’t have the magical footwork of the nice Okocha- not many in world soccer do- however he excelled together with his personal distinctive ability set.
5. Vincent Enyeama
Vincent Enyeama is among the best African goalkeepers of all-time.
Having gone to the 2022 World Cup because the understudy to Ike Shorunmu, Enyeama was thrust into the motion within the remaining group match towards England, and he confirmed great composure and skill to maintain a clear sheet towards the Three Lions.
From then, he went from power to power, amassing over 100 caps with the Tremendous Eagles in a nationwide crew profession that spanned over a decade. He went to 2 extra World Cups (2010 and 2014), and was pivotal in Nigeria’s run to the AFCON title in 2013.
Enyeama additionally excelled at membership degree, successful back-to-back CAF Champions League titles with Enyimba in 2003 and 2004, to go together with successive league titles between 2001 and 2003.
In Europe, he was very good for Hapoel Tel Aviv, serving to the unfancied Israeli membership to the group section of the Champions League, and later Lille, the place he established himself as among the best goalkeepers on this planet.
4. Segun Odegbami
Segun Odegbami’s nationwide crew profession was comparatively temporary, however he made an indelible contribution to Nigerian soccer, inspiring the nation to her first Nations Cup success in 1980.
“Mathematical” scored three targets within the event, together with two within the remaining towards Algeria, as Nigeria lastly claimed a long-awaited AFCON trophy.
He was the joint main scorer on the event. In whole, he scored 23 targets in 46 appearances for Nigeria. He was additionally a part of the Nigerian crew that claimed the silver medal on the 1978 All Africa Video games.
Odegbami spent over a decade representing Taking pictures Stars, successful three league titles, two home Cup titles and the Africa Cup Winners Cup in 1976.
3. Stephen Keshi
Stephen Keshi is one in every of solely two males to win the Africa Cup of Nations as a participant and a coach- the opposite being Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary- having received the event in 1994 as captain, and in 2013 as Eagles supervisor.
The Massive Boss, as he was fondly known as, additionally captained Nigeria to her first World Cup at USA 1994. He made 64 appearances for the Eagles, scoring 9 targets.
At membership degree, Keshi performed for various Nigerian golf equipment, together with his longest stint being with New Nigerian Financial institution, whereas he additionally spent numerous time in Belgium, significantly Anderlecht, whom he represented between 1987 and 1991.
Other than main Nigeria to AFCON triumph in 2013, Keshi had different nice managerial exploits, essentially the most notable being qualifying lowly Togo to their first World Cup in Germany 2006.
2. Jay Jay Okocha
Blessed with magical ft and unrivalled creativity, Austin JayJay Okocha might be essentially the most naturally gifted footballer to have ever performed for Nigeria.
Okocha didn’t win as many titles and awards as his skills deserved, however he did win the Nations Cup with the Eagles in 1994, and was a part of the Atlanta 1996 Gold Medal crew.
He got here shut on quite a few different events, ending second with the Eagles on the 2000 AFCON, after which settling for 3 consecutive AFCON bronze medals in 2002, 2004 and 2006.
Okocha additionally didn’t have a lot luck with particular person awards, as he by no means claimed the celebrated African Footballer of the 12 months award.
He notably performed for Frankfurt in Germany and French facet, Paris St. Germain, becoming a member of the Parisiens for an African report switch charge after the 1998 World Cup, but it surely was at retro English facet, Bolton Wanderers that he arguably had his largest affect in Europe.
With Okocha pulling the strings within the center, Bolton grew to become a longtime Premier League crew, and even made the ultimate of the EFL Cup, which they misplaced to Middlesbrough.
Okocha won’t have received as a lot as a few of his contemporaries, however he’ll at all times be proper up there as probably the most gifted footballers to ever play the gorgeous sport.
Okocha continues to be very a lot concerned within the sport post-retirement. He’s recurrently concerned in TV soccer analyses, and is an envoy for soccer betting model, betking, which in response to MyBettingSites, is thought to be among the best bookmakers within the nation.
1. Nwankwo Kanu
Nwankwo Kanu is among the most embellished gamers in Nigerian historical past.
The lanky ahead had already captained Nigeria to international glory on the Japan 1993 Below-17 World Cup, however he took it to a different degree in 1996, when he impressed the Dream Crew to victory within the soccer occasion on the Atlanta 1996 Olympics Video games.
For all his success at youth degree, Kanu, amazingly, by no means claimed any titles at senior worldwide degree. The closest he got here was a heart-breaking runner-up end on the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations, collectively hosted by Nigeria and Ghana.
He scored 12 targets in 86 appearances for Nigeria.
What he lacked in trophies with the Tremendous Eagles, he greater than made up for it at membership degree.
Kanu is among the few Nigerians with a UEFA Champions League winners medal, having helped Ajax to the title in 1995, whereas he additionally received the UEFA Cup in 1998 throughout his temporary spell at Inter Milan.
Kanu piled on the trophies at Arsenal, successful two League titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners, whereas he added one other Cup triumph with Portsmouth in 2008, famously scoring the successful purpose within the remaining.
For all of those exploits, he was named African Footballer of the 12 months in 1996 and 1999.