In this post, we have compiled a list of the top 10 Nigerian soccer players of all the time. The list is in no particular order.
Best Nigerian Soccer Players of All Time
1. Nwankwo Kanu
Popularly known as Kanu or Papilo, Nwankwo Kanu is a retired Nigerian footballer that was particularly known for his amazing skills and unique goalscoring instinct.
During his active days, Nwankwo Kanu played as a forward and featured for boyhood club, IwuanyanwuNationale before traveling to Europe where he featured for Ajax (Holland), Inter Milan (Italy), and English clubs – Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion and Portsmouth.
Kanu’s career was laced with trophies and awards. He won a UEFA Champions League medal, a UEFA Cup medal, three FA Cup Winners Medals and two African Player of the Year awards.
Papillo is one of few players to have won the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup, and an Olympic Gold Medal. This is why he is regarded as one of the football greats in the history of Nigerian and African football.
2. Austin Okocha
Also known as Jay JayOkocha, Austin Okocha is one of the most talented players to have graced the Nigerian football scene.
During his playing days, Jay JayOkocha played as an attacking midfielder and he was known for his ball juggling and dribbling skills. He was also known for his technique, creativity, and his use of feints, in particular, the stepover.
Jay Jay is a dual Nigerian-Turkish citizen. He acquired his Turkish citizenship as “MuhammetYavuz” while playing for the Turkish football club, Fenerbahçe.
3. Sunday Oliseh
Sunday Oliseh was the former captain of the Super Eagles. He is one of the football greats in the history of Nigeria football.
He played as a midfielder and was known for his technique and physicality. Oliseh played for likes AFC Ajax, Borussia Dortmund, and Juventus F.C.
During his time as a Nigerian International, Oliseh played 63 international matches and scored three goals for Nigeria. He featured at the FIFA World Cups of 1994 and 1998. He was also a part of the Olympic gold medal winning team of 1996. In 1998, Sunday Oliseh was voted Africa’s 3rd best footballer by CAF. His goal at the FIFA World Cup is one of the most remembered goals in the history of the World Cup.
When it comes to goalscorers, one of the names on the lips of many Nigerians is Rashidi Yekini. During his playing days, he was a prolific striker with a footballing career that spanned more than two decades. He spent most of his time playing for Vitória de Setúbal in Portugal, but he also played in six other countries.
As a Nigerian international, Yekini scored 37 goals and represented Nigeria in five major tournaments, including two World Cups. It would be recalled the Yekini scored Nigeria’s first-ever goal in the competition and was also named the African Footballer of the Year in 1993.
Apart from Victoria de Setubal, Yekini played for the likes of Olympiacos FC, Sporting de Gijón, FC Zürich, Club AthlétiqueBizertin and Al-Shabab Riyadh.
He played for Julius Berger in 2003 at the age of 39. Two years later, he featured for Gateway United FC as a 41-year-old.
Segun Odegbami was one of the best players for Nigeria in the 80’s. He played as a forward and won 46 caps for the National Team scoring 23 goals.
Odegbami was part of the team that guided Nigeria to its first Africa Cup of Nations title at the 1980 tournament in Nigeria. He was one of the best players at the competition and he was known for his skill on the ball, speed and precision of his crosses from the right wing. In fact, it was said that he was nicknamed Mathematical because of the precision of his cross
However, some have said that the actual source of his nickname, Mathematical was because of his training at the Polytechnic, Ibadan where he studied Engineering.
Odegbami featured for the IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan throughout his entire career, from 1970 to 1984. His ended his career at Shooting Stars on a losing note when they were defeated by Zamalek of Egypt at the 1984 African Champions Cup final.
6. Stephen Keshi
Stephen Keshi is another top class Nigerian player. He was the captain of the Nigerian Football team to the country’s first world cup attendance at the 1994 tournament in the United States. He was also the captain of the team that won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations.
Keshi played 60 times for the Super Eagles making him the nation’s second-most capped player at the time of his retirement.
During his active days, Keshi played club football in five countries, most notably Belgium, where he won the Belgian league championship with R.S.C. Anderlecht in 1991.
Interestingly, Keshi would later become the coach of the Nigerian football team. He won the Africa Cup of Nations as a coach becoming one of the only two people, along with Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary, to have won the Africa Cup of Nations as both a player and a coach.
7. Emmanuel Amunike
Emmanuel Amunike is the only Nigerian footballer to have featured for the popular Spanish club, Barcelona F.C. He scored the goals that won the nation’s cup for the Nigerian National team in 1994.
During his playing days, Amunikeplayed as a winger and represented Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup. Unfortunately, his career was a terrible effect by injury which led to his limited appearances during his time at Barcelona F.C.
8. Finidi George
Finidi George was one of the best right wingers during his footballing days. He made a name for himself while playing for Ajax football club in the Netherlands. During his time at Ajax, he won eight major titles, including the 1995 Champions League. He also played Real Betis in Spain for many years.
9. Christian Chukwu
Christian Chukwu is another footballing great in the history of Nigerian football. He was the captain of the Nigerian team that won the African Nations Cup in 1980.
He played as a defender and featured for Enugu Rangers during his playing career. Chukwu was the first Nigerian captain to lift the African Nations Cup trophy when the Nigerian team defeated Algeria 3-0 in the final of the 1980 tournament.
10. Muda Lawal
Mudashiru Babatunde also known as Muda Lawal was another famous and talented Nigerian footballer. He played as a midfielder and spent his entire playing career with the Shooting Stars F.C. of Ibadan.
Muda Lawal was part of the team that won the nations cup in 1980. He was also part of the team that helped his club, Shooting Stars to their first continental title when they won the African Cup Winners Cup.