Your guess should have been as good as mine. But after in-depth study of the subject matter, after we complied our survey of 27 Sports Journalists in Nigeria as well as those from other Africa countries of Ghana, Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal… I was rather surprise by what we found out. Just enjoy this post as we share with you some worth exposé of the 10 most Popular Football Clubs in Nigerian History.
This is the result we got from our study. In ascending order the most popular clubs in Nigerian football history:
1. Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan
2. Enugu Rangers International Football Club of Enugu
3. Stationery Stores Football Club of Lagos
4. Enyimba International of Aba
5. Railway XI Football Club of Lagos
6. Iwuanyawu Nationale Football Club of Owerri
7. Kano Pillars Football Club of Kano
8. Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin
9. Mighty Jets Football Club of Jos
10. Marine Athletic Football Club of Lagos
1. Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan (Since 1950s): The club which is also known as 3Sc or Oluyole Warriors is indeed the most followed team in Nigeria and more popularly known across the world than any other club in the West African Country.
In the club’s glory days during the 70s and 80s, “Up Sooting” as they were called, dominated Nigeria’s Division one League. Shooting Stars was the first club to win the FA Cup in 1971. The club have played and won many matches against top club side in Africa. It won African Cup Winners cup in 1976, becoming the first Nigerian club side to win an international trophy.
Many well known international stars have played for 3Sc in the past, including former African footballer of the Year Rasheed Yekini; ‘The Mathematical’ Segun Odegbami. Muda Lawal… Read More about Shooting Stars
2. Enugu Rangers International Football Club of Enugu (1970): The club is popularly known as just Rangers, is one of the only two Nigerian division one football club that has never been relegated to lower division in the league.
Rangers is actually the Darling team of the Ibo tribe in Eastern Nigeria and was an arch-rivalry to Shooting Stars, which is also seen as a Yoruba club.
The match between both clubs in the 70s and 80s can only be comparable to the Spanish El’Classico (Barcelona Vs Real Madrid) of today. The Nnamdi Azokwe 30, 000 stadium got filled to capacity hours before the match kicks-off. With some Fans having to climb roof top and hang on near by trees just to see the match.
Rangers have won Nigeria Premier League 6 times within 1975 to 1984 and 5 FA Cup trophies in the same period. Rangers’ narrowly lost the CAF Champions League trophy in 1975.
Many well known international stars have played for the club in the past, including Green Eagkles longest serving captain Christian Chukwu, Emmanuel Okalla, Allocious Atiegbu… Read more about Enugu Rangers
3. Stationery Stores Football Club of Lagos (Since 1958): The club popularly kown as ‘Flaming Flamingoes’ or ‘Adebajo Babes, had a legendiary fans culture never seen before or after in this country. The team impact was able to mptivate thousands of their supporters to attend away matches, filled to the brim inside the traditional Lagos Yellow buses called Molue.
“Up Flaming” fans hailed themselves as they waved their traditional white handkerchiefs and wore repulsive Sosorobia perfume. The club’s glory days started as far back as 1967; their fluid and entertaining style of play endeared the Lagos fans so much that the first eleven of the Nigerian national team in the 1968 Mexico Olympics football event had 9 stationery stores players. The club won two FA Cup trophies in 1967 – 1968.
Throughout those years Stationery stores enjoyed a particularly brutal rivalry against Enugu Rangers and Spartans of Owerri, going back to the East Vs West feeling from the civil war.
Stationery Stores was particularly known to produce great goal keepers for the national team, Including Peter Fregene, Peter Rufai, Dosun Joseph and Ike Shorumu… As well as othe r great players like Sam Okpone, Waidi Akande, Addi Brothers… Read More about Stationery Stores
4. Enyimba International Football Club of Aba (Since 1976): The name Enyimba means “People’s Elephant in Igbo language. The club is also nicknamed “The Aba Warriors.
Enyimba rose to prominence in 1999, when Orji Uzor Kalu became ther Governor of Abia state and the club’s fortune turned around 360 degrees. In 2003 and 2004 the story of Enyimba’s conquest was like a fairytale; being the only Nigerian club to have ever won CAF Champions league till date. And the club did it in grand style, winning it back to back.
Enyimba’s success burst out such a city rallying in Aba that attracted international media, including BBC, CNN, Supersports… broadcast live the over 100 thousand people took to the street of Aba dancing and stamping their right legs at intervals, which depicts how Elephants crush it foes. And song “Nzobu, nzobu, Enyimba Enyi’ rent air in celebration of Enyimba’s victory.
Enyimba’s dominance has continued since then. The club has won Nigeria Premier League 7 times. They are the current champions of 2015 season; have won FA Cuo 4 times, Nigerian Suoper cup 4 times and Africa Super cup 2 times.
Enyimba is obviously the most successful club in Nigeria football history. The club is so popular to the extent in August 2001, the team was invited to play against Inter Malian at San Siro stadium in Italy to mark the return of Ronaldo. Read more about Enyimba
5. Railway XI Football Club of Lagos (since 1945): There wasn’t any established league in 1945, but the challenge cup saw the Railway XI dominate the whole football airwaves in Nigeria. From 1949, the club staged such top classic matches between rivalries like Marine Athletics, UAC XI, Calabar XI…
Although, due to the level of civilization then, I am not sure many people were able to make it to the stadium from far distance, yet the area were always filled to capacity and almost every people around the country stayed glued to their transistor radio anytime Railway XI was playing?
Most legendary stars of that era once played for Railway XI, including Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun, Daniel Anyaim, Felix Ugwu, Jimoh Ayorinde… Railway XI won the challenge cup for 6 consecutive years from 1948 to 1954. The club produced the bulk of players that featured in the first Nigeria national team’s international matches – Red Devils tour of UK in 1949. Read More about Railway XI