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.
The reason being Nigeria has a lot of great players and it isn’t that easily to choose from the lot. But rather than use the rule of thumb in choosing players that made the list, we decided to establish some kind of criteria:
Those players who won some prestigious individual laurels like CAF African footballer of the year or BBC African footballer of the year Awards…
Those who through their individual performances brought so much fame to the sport in Nigeria as well as globally.
We also established that organized football began in Nigeria since 1945, when Nigeria Football Association was created and since then the country have had some great players you can’t really ignore or the list will not be truly correct.
It was really difficult to compile this version of the list or how could players like Finidi George, Uche Okechukwu, Muda Lawal, Emmanuel Okala, Daniel Amokachie, Sunday Oliseh, Vincent Enyeama…. Not make the list of the “10 Best of the best.”
In our own wisdom, we thought it wasn’t correct to drop names of players that won such top most awards like CAF African footballer of the year and include the names of those who couldn’t win such award in their time.
Let us know what you opinion is about our own version of the list “10 Best of the best Nigerian footballers of all time.”
10. Taribo West: With his trademark hair doo (Sometimes plated green-white-green) brought so much attention to himself and to his country Nigeria.
He made name in Auxerre, Inter-Milan, then later Derby County and Plymouth… West was quite a character on and off the field… a big nemesis to many strikers in his time. He was known as a defender that played football with his own blood…
He was a member of the original Nigeria Dream team that won Gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta USA.
9. Stephen Keshi: A formidable central defender with incredible skills… Keshi led the exodus and was said to be the man who opened the door for Nigerian footballers to start playing abroad.
Keshi was the longest captain of the Nigerian national team for ovr a decade and half,,, he also captained teams like Strasburg and sacremento abroad.
Keshi captained the Nigeria national team to its first world cup appearance in 1994. He is the only Nigerian that has won the African Cup of Nation as both Captain and coach in 1994 and 2013 respectively.
8. Anua Lawal Rigogo: A goalkeeper with extraordinary abilities… his acrobatic displays made the then President of Ghana, Kwame Nkuruma, to nickname him “the Flying Cat.”
It is said that nobody born of a man can score Rigogo… he only conceded 4 goals in his 42 appearances for the Nigeria national team.
Rigogo was one of the players that made the game of football so popular in Nigeria.
7. Victor Ikpeba: Fondly called the prince of Monaco… Ikpeba lit up the whole of the French ligue1 with his mesmerizing skills and goal scoring abilities. He scored 84 goals in 102 appearances for AS Monaco.
Ikpeba won the CAF Africa footballer of the year award in 1997 and was a member of the Nigerian Dream team that won Gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
6. Emmanuel Amunike: A great attacking phenomenon that was fond of scoring deciding goals for both the Nigeria national team and his club sides.
He scored the match winner for Nigeria at the Africa cup of Nations in Tuinsia 1994 and also scored the match winner in Atlanta Olympics soccer finals in 1996.
He scored 2 world cup goals in Nigeria’s inaugural appearance at US 94 world cup against Bulgaria and Italy.
In his short spell as a player, Amunike remain the most successful player at the national team level. He won both AFCON in 1994 and Olympic Gold Medal in 1996.
He player for the La-liga giant Barcelona in 1996, Sporting Gisbon 1994, Zamlex… He won CAF African footballer of the Year 1994.
5. Segun Odegbami: popularly called “mathematical” during his playing days… and his fame almost got to the level of divinity after he scored a brace that helped Nigeria win it’s first ever African Cup of Nation in 1980.
Odegbami’s speed and calculation as his flight the right wing for club and the national team was phenomenal.
He spent most of his playing career with IICC Shooting stars of Ibadan from 1970 to 1984. He scored 23 goals in his 46 caps for his country and helped Nigeria win it’s first African nations cup trophy in 1980.