The Toughest Football Players In Nigeria History

How tough were players like Christian Chukwu, Muda Lawal, Godwin Odiye…? Well, you must be physically and mentally strong to play football in Nigeria during the 60s’ and 70s.’ The game is all about ‘kick and follow.’ Hard tackles, head boots and physical struggles were just normal part of the game before the introduction of FIFA Fair Play.

But I want us to look at some players well known for their hardness, those players that share the reputation of the toughest footballers in Nigerian history.

 Taribo West is one of the toughest central defenders in the world; in the likes of Terry Butcher of England. Although, West became a Pastor towards the later part of his career at Inter Milan, but he was one player who was ready to die in field of play.

With his unique horn hair style, West hard tackle and air battle sent many players off the game for several months. West himself get cut into the injury gushing his own blood in several matches played for club and country.

 Playing at Inter Milan at the UEFA Cup, West got elbowed on his forehead and was bleeding furiously, but refused to be substituted.

In another occasion, he threw his jersey on the coach’s face for substituting him – that was the passion and fury with which West approached every game.

West had a professional career which started with Julius Berger FC in Nigeria, before he went to Auxerre in France, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Derby County  and retired at Paykan FC in Iran. West made 41 appearances for the Nigeria national team from 1994 to 2002 and he played both in the 1998 and 2002 FIFA world cup.

 2.      Bright Omokaro, popularly known as ‘Ten-ten,’ is perhaps the hardest player in Nigeria football history. Omokaro who played at the right full back most of his career, got a notorious reputation with his partner, Sunday Eboiegbe, as ‘the destroyers.’

Omokaro got his nickname ‘ten-ten’ at Maroc 88’ nation’s cup match against Algeria. Ademola Adeshina was given a red card and the Nigeria team was reduced to ten players. So the coach then, Manfred Hoener said to Omokaro, “You know you play hard, now use it to our advantage.” On getting in, Omokaro went hard on one of the Algerian player and he was stretched off the field and couldn’t be substituted. So on the commentary box, Late Ernest Okonkwo screamed, “Omokaro has made it ten-ten.”  And the next day it became newspapers headline.

Omokaro professional career span for over 12 years and he played for Bendel Insurance, Asec Mimosa, ACB, Abiola babes, NNB and ended his career with 3sc in 1996. Omokaro won Nigeria National Division one league with NNB as well as WAFU cup, Then CAF Cup with 3sc. Omokaro made over 43 appearances for the Nigeria national team and played in two CAF Nation’s cup.

3.      Sunday Eboigbe, known as one of ‘the destroyers’ and the second, Bright Omokaro, both played with Bendel Insurance, NNB and the Nigeria National team between 1982 – 1993. Most outside right or attacking midfielders get knocked off the pitch by the traps deliberately set by Eboigbe and Omokaro.

Eboigbe, a towering 6.6 ft tall central defender easily sweeps off the feet of any opponent with his very dangerous tackles that made him one of the toughest footballers in Nigeria history. With Eboigbe’s fierce look and gigantic approach when running towards an opponent forces the player to lose the ball and run for his dear life.

Eboigbe made over 58 appearances for the Nigeria national team. He won the Nigeria National division one league with NNB as well as WAFU cup. He also won Nigeria professional league with Iwuanyanwu Nationale.

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