10 Best Nigerian Soccer Players ever



USA'94 Team

There are many good Nigerian players in the history of the game. The USA’94 team is Nigeria’s best squad ever at senior level and below are the ten best Nigerian soccer players of all time.

10. Stephen Keshi
Date of Birth: January 13, 1962

Stephen Keshi

Stephen Keshi (Big Boss) represented Nigeria in four African Cup of Nations (1982, 1984, 1992 and 1994) and was in the 1984 African Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament. He led a generation of Nigerian players to the Mecca of Nigerian Football (Belgium) in the 80’s and also to their first ever World Cup in USA’94. Super Eagles coach (Clemens Westerhof) used to work with Keshi on team selection during his playing days.

9. Sunday Oliseh
Date of Birth: September 14, 1974

Sunday Oliseh

Sunday Oliseh represented Nigeria in three African Cup of Nations (1994, 2000, 2002) and two World Cups (1994, 1998). He scored a great goal against Andoni Zubizarreta of Spain in France’98. He was a member of the Nigerian team that won gold in Atlanta’96 summer Olympics. Oliseh is one of the best defensive midfielders of his generation.

8. Muda Lawal
Date of Birth: June 8, 1954

Muda Lawal

Muda Lawal is the joint most capped Nigerian player alongside Kanu Nwankwo with 86 games. He is the first player in Africa to play in five consecutive African Cup of Nations from 1976 to 1984. He was a member of the Nigerian team that won the African Cup of Nations in 1980 and was a legend with the famous Nigerian club (IICC Shooting Stars) in his playing days.

7. Christian Chukwu
Date of Birth: January 4, 1951

Christian Chukwu

Christian Chukwu led the Nigerian team to the 1980 African Cup of Nations which they won on home soil and he was the best player of the tournament. He played in three consecutive African Cup of Nations from 1976 to 1980. He is probably the best Nigerian defender ever. He was also the captain of the famous Nigerian club (Enugu Rangers) during his playing days.

6. Victor Ikpeba
Date of Birth: June 12, 1973

Victor Ikpeba

Victor Ikpeba (Prince of Monaco) represented Nigeria at the U-17 World Cup in Saudi’89 and their coach (Sebastian Broderick) said he’s the best player he ever managed. He was part of the Nigerian team that won gold at the summer Olympics in Atlanta’96. He won the Belgian African Footballer of the Year award in 1993 before he would win the CAF Player of the Year award in 1997. He represented Nigeria in four African Cup of Nations (1992, 1994, 2000, 2002) and two World Cups (1994, 1998).

5. Finidi George
Date of Birth: April 15, 1971

George Finidi

Finidi George made his debut for Nigeria against Burkina Faso in 1991 where he provided three assists for Rashidi Yekini and scored once in a 7-1 win. He created almost all the assists for Nigeria in USA’94. Finidi won the UEFA Champions League with Ajax in 1995 and was regarded as the best winger in the world during that time. He represented Nigeria in four African Cup of Nations (1992, 1994, 2000 and 2002) and two World Cups (1994 and 1998). Finidi is one of the best midfielders of his generation.

4. Segun Odegbami
Date of Birth: August 27, 1952

Segun Odegbami

Segun “Mathematical” Odegbami was the highest goal scorer in both the 1978 and 1980 African Cup of nations. He was also in the CAF Team of the Tournament on both occasions. He represented Nigeria in three African Cup of Nations and played for the famous Nigerian club (IICC Shooting Stars) between 1970 and 1984. Odegbami is regarded as the best Nigerian soccer player ever by some analysts.

3. Rashidi Yekini
Date of Birth: October 23, 1963

Rashidi Yekini

Rashidi Yekini (the gangling striker) is Nigeria’s highest goal scorer with 37 goals in 60 matches. He was the highest goal scorer for most of the teams he played for in his career. He is the third highest goal scorer in the history of the African Cup of Nations with 13 goals in five appearances (1984, 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1994). He scored Nigeria’s first World Cup goal in USA’94 and was also part of the Nigerian team in France’98. Yekini won the African Footballer of the Year award in 1993.

2. Austin Okocha
Date of Birth: August 14, 1973

Austin Okocha

Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha is one of the best dribblers of all time and he is the most skillful African player in the history of the game. He scored the goal of the season in the German League in 1993. He represented Nigeria in five African Cup of Nations (1994, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006) and three World Cups (1994, 1998 and 2002). Jay Jay Okocha is widely regarded by some as the best Nigerian player ever.

1. Nwankwo Kanu
Date of Birth: August 1, 1976

Kanu Nwankwo

Nwankwo “Papillo” Kanu is the most decorated Nigerian player ever. He represented Nigeria in all age levels of soccer. He won the U-17 World Cup in 1993 and led the Nigerian U-23 team (Dream Team) to Atlanta’96 where they won gold. He won the UEFA Champions League with Ajax in 1995 and the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan in 1998. He was twice African Footballer of the Year (1996 and 1999) and was the sixth World best player in 1999. He represented Nigeria in five consecutive African Cup of Nations from 2000 to 2010 and three consecutive World Cups (1998, 2002, and 2010). Kanu is the best Nigerian soccer player ever.

This is a video compilation of this list.

 

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  • Dr. Olanipekun Olushola

    Am glad u agree that JJ Okocha is d most skillful soccer player ever in Africa. Am also glad u agree that Kanu is Nigeria’s Greatest Soccer Player ever.

  • wealthy

    could have added goal keeper as well

  • Naija

    Rubbish list. What has Kanu done for SE? 3 world cup, Kanu was no where to be found. Also 5 African Cup of Nation; Kanu, a striker, never scored a goal. What is the achievement of Ikpeba for SE? Then, you forgot Amokachi, Amunike, Mutiu Adepoju etc.

    • Rascojet

      To come up with a list like this many Nigerian players were taken into consideration. You didn’t get to watch notable Nigerian soccer players like Baba Otu Mohammed, Thompson Usiyen, Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun, Henry Nwosu, Felix Owolabi, and Richard ‘Daddy’ Owubokiri that won’t let Mutiu Adepoju be on the list of Nigeria’s top 20. Peter Rufai, Emmanuel Amunike, Daniel Amokachi and Uche Okechukwu would join them on this list? Victor Ikpeba is one of the best African Strikers to play the game likewise Kanu Nwankwo. Can we see your own list???

  • David Ibeleme

    I agree that the list should have included at least a goal keeper. truth is Nigeria has produced so many world class goal keepers. Essien, Emma Okala and Peter Rufai to mention a few. Kanu deserves to be in the list mainly for being the most decorated Nigerian player however as a player he wouldn’t have made my list ahead of men like Thompson Osiyen, Adokie Amesimaka or even Alloy Atuegbu. Francis Odua (not sure of the spelling) who captained Nigeria before Chukwu was also a phenomenal defender along with Godwin Odiye who I believe is probably Nigeria’s best ever central defender. Though with players like Keshi and Chairman Chukwu it will be difficult to prove that. Other great defenders are Pat Ekeji, Tony Igwe and Sam Egboge (Not sure of spelling).
    I also believe men like Yakubu Mambo, Olayumbo and Haruna Ilerika should have been mentioned. How did we forget Josy Dumbraye, Kunle Awesu and Godwin (Opel) Ironkwe our past phenomenal Left wingers?
    I must admit that it is difficult to choose a Nigerian top 10 because we have produced so many great players and its actually easy to choose any 10 and argue rightly why each chosen player should be in the list. I don’t envy anyone who attempts to choose Nigeria’s top 10.

    • Rascojet

      Writing a list of just ten of Nigeria’s soccer players wasn’t easy for any goalkeeper to make the list. There is another list I wrote on Africa’s best 10 Goalkeepers, Peter Rufai is on that list. You listed about 17 players on a top 10 list??? Most of the mentioned players were taken into consideration before compiling this list but because the new generation players made it to the FIFA World Cup, played more games abroad and won more laurels made them rank better than most of the past players. Players like Tony Nwaigwe, Sam Eboigbe and Yakubu Mambo won’t make any serious list of Nigerian players. Kanu, the most decorated Nigerian player, represented Nigeria at all levels of the game and will definitely rank better than Adokiye Amaesimaka and Thompson Usiyen. You have some good memories of the past though…

  • Akin

    What about Peter Rufai and Emmanuel Amunike? The list is faulty! Ikpeba is a great player but not ahead of the two mentioned.

  • Akin

    These are my Nigeria 10 greatest players in this order without sentiment:
    1.Nwakwuo Kanu – a lucky chap, most decorated in annal of Nigeria football
    2.Rashidi Yekini – The records of goals scored speaks for him.
    3.Sunday Oliseh – Probably the greatest of them all for his zeal and dedication to national duty
    4. Muda Lawal – the great Muda Lawal, he was the greatest of his generation. Okala & Chukwu
    confirmed this in various interviews
    5. Austin Okocha – Great driller and Nigeria image.
    6. Xtian Chukwu – greatest defender
    7. Segun Odegbami – great player, inspirational
    8. Haruna Ilerika – shared same football skill with ‘JJ’
    9.Stephen Keshi – pathfinder to European greener pasture for Nigerian players. A great leaders of men.
    10.Peter Rufai – greatest goalkeeper of all time for Nigeria. During his playing days it was Rufai vs opponents.

    Would appreciate your comment, may be here or in my box.

    • Rascojet

      Funny Akin: You said Ikpeba shouldn’t be ahead of Rufai and Amunike but you left Amunike out of your nice top 10 list. You can add Rufai if you feel a keeper is needed but if you really want the best 10 ever he won’t make the list. Amunike didn’t play much for the eagles and was on the bench during the ACN in 1994 except the final. Check the lifespan of his career with the others…