10 Best of the Best Nigerian Footballers of All Time – Since 1945

We found out that no matter what criteria we used to compile the list of “the Best of the Best Nigerian footballers of all time,’ it will still remain arguable.

But rather than use the rule of thumb in choosing players that made the list, we decided to establish some kind of criteria:

4. Austin ‘Jay-jay Okocha: There hasn’t been any African player that could get near Jay-Jay in terms of his magical skills and flair…. His ball tricks, flicks, leg-over were something out of this world.

In 2004, Pele listed Okocha in his list of the greatest 125 living players of all time. In 2007, Okocha was voted the 12th greatest African footballer of the past 50 years.

He won the inaugural edition of BBC African footballer of the year Award in 2003 and retained the Award in 2004.

He was a member of the Nigeria national team that won African cup of nation in 1994 and the Dream team that won Olympic gold Medal in Atlanta 1996.


3. Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun: Arguably the most popular Nigerian footballer of all time… whose fame has span over five decades since 1949.

Thunder balogun has become a kind of Superhero in the Nigeria folklore… it was said that Balogun’s shot rip open the stomach of a player and burst through the goal net.

But in reality, Balogun was the first Nigerian footballer to sign a professional football contract abroad with FC Peterborough in the UK. He brought so much attention to Nigeria at a time the country is largely unknown in many part of the world.

2. Rasheed Yekini: Perhaps, one of African best Player to walk on earth. Nigeria’s leading all time goals scorer. Yekini was a menace to defenders… some worth unstoppable giant with speed equivalent to that of Usain Bolt.

Yekini scored  Nigeria’s first  world cup goal and also helped Nigeria win the 1994 African Cup of Nation’s in Tunisia… he was the highest goal scorer of the tournament.

Yekini scored 37 goals in 58 appearances for the Nigerian national team – Super Eagles.

Yekini started his professional career in Nigeria with IICC Shooting Stars and became the leading goal scorer in the local league. He moved on to win the leading scorer in Ivory Coast league with African Sports.

He then travelled to Europe and also became the leading goal scorer in Portuguese’s league with 34 goals in 32 appearances for Vitoria Setubal in 1993 – 94 seasons.

Yekini won the CAF African Footballer of the year Award twice in 1990 and 1993. He was also member of the Super Eagles team that won the African cup of nations in 1994.

1.Nwankwo Kanu: Popularly called “Papilo” during his playing days. Kanu is perhaps the best Nigerian player to have ever lived. His amazingly ball intelligence was in fact supernatural. Pele once said that kanu played more with his head than legs. You can never know what next is in his bag of tricks…

Kanu is probably one of Africa’s most decorated footballers in history. .. He won UEFA Champions League trophy with Ajax, UEFA Cup with Inter Milan, three English FA Cup, one English Premier League, Olympic Gold Medal…

Kanu was voted by his club Arsenal as the 13th greatest Gunner of all time. He won CAF African footballer of the year twice in 1996 and 1999.

He was the captain of Nigeria’s original Dream team that won Gold Medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

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