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The most decorated Nigerian footballers in history

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The game of football is not complete without medals and awards. Since the inception of the round leather game, football has seen exceptional players etch their names in history through their skills, dedication, and triumphs. Nigerian footballers have not lagged behind, contributing significantly to the global football stage.

As the AFCON 2024 tournament progresses, it’s a fitting time to recognize talents. Meanwhile, the most decorated Nigerian footballers based on their impressive trophy collections.

1. Nwankwo Kanu: The Golden Boy
Nwankwo Kanu, often nicknamed Papilo, stands tall as the most decorated Nigerian footballer. The legendary forward’s illustrious career included stints at Ajax Amsterdam, Inter Milan, and Arsenal. Kanu’s trophy cabinet boasts a UEFA Champions League title, three Dutch Eredivisie titles, two Premier League titles, and numerous domestic cups. He played a pivotal role in Nigeria’s 1993 FIFA U-17 World Cup victory and secured the African Footballer of the Year Award twice.

2. John Mikel Obi: Chelsea’s Midfield Maestro
Former Super Eagles captain, John Mikel Obi, secures the second spot with an impressive career featuring about 10 trophies. Spending a decade at Chelsea, Mikel won two Premier League titles, four English FA Cups, two English League Cups, and one UEFA Champions League title in 2012. On the international stage, he played a key role in Nigeria’s 2013 African Cup of Nations triumph.

3. Finidi George: The Flair on the Right Flank
Known for his flair on the right flank, Finidi George claimed close to ten major trophies during his career, mainly with Ajax Amsterdam. The winger secured a UEFA Champions League title, three Dutch Eredivisie titles, and numerous other honors. His contribution was vital in Nigeria’s 1994 African Cup of Nations victory.

4. Daniel Amokachi: The Bull in Attack
Nicknamed “The Bull,” Daniel Amokachi’s career spanned several countries, including Belgium, England, Turkey, and the United States. The powerful striker won titles like two Belgian Pro League titles, one English FA Cup, and one Turkish Cup. Amokachi’s impact was felt on the national scene, contributing to Nigeria’s 1994 African Cup of Nations and the 1996 Olympic gold.

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5. Sunday Oliseh: Midfield Dynamo
Sunday Oliseh, a defensive midfield maestro, claims the fifth spot. His career highlights include winning the Dutch Eredivisie and Dutch Cup with Ajax Amsterdam and the German Bundesliga title with Borussia Dortmund in the 2001/2002 season. Oliseh was a key member of Nigeria’s 1994 African Cup of Nations and the 1996 Olympic gold-winning squads.

6. Victor Ikpeba: The “Prince of Monaco

Born on June 12, 1973, Victor Ikpeba earned the moniker “Prince of Monaco” for his remarkable career as a forward in Nigerian football. With 31 caps for Nigeria, Ikpeba was a pivotal part of successful teams at the CAF Nations Cup in 1994 and the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

His journey to prominence began when he moved to Belgium to play for RFC Liege, discovered by the club during the FIFA U-17 World Championship in 1989. The pinnacle of Ikpeba’s club career was with Monaco in 1993, where he not only secured a league title but also emerged as the second top scorer in the UEFA Cup during the 1996-97 season. In 1997, Ikpeba’s individual brilliance was recognized when he was crowned the African Player of the Year.

7. Taribo West: The Flamboyant Defender

Born on March 28, 1974, Taribo West remains one of Nigeria’s most successful defenders, known not only for his skills but also for his eccentric and colorful hairstyles. While he may not be remembered for numerous caps with the Super Eagles, West’s impact transcends the number of appearances.

In a career that reached the highest echelons of football, West amassed medals with both club and country. Notable among these achievements are the CAF African Nations Cup victory in 1994, an Olympic gold medal in 1996, and various other honors. Despite his unique off-field style, West left an indelible mark as a formidable force in Nigerian football.

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8. Vincent Enyeama: The Guardian of the Goalpost

Vincent Enyeama stands tall as Nigeria’s premier goalkeeper, holding the titles of the nation’s best, most successful in his position, and the most capped player of all time. Making his debut in 2002 against Kenya, Enyeama quickly rose to prominence, showcasing his exceptional skills between the goalposts.

His world cup debut in the same year, notably in a goal-less draw against the English national team, marked the beginning of an illustrious international career. Enyeama served as the last line of defense for the Super Eagles from 2002 to 2015 when he retired amid a fallout with then Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh.

Enyeama’s domestic successes include three consecutive Nigerian Premier League titles with Enyimba International FC in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Furthermore, he played a pivotal role in securing the CAF Champions League titles in 2003 and 2004. The icing on the cake was his contribution to Nigeria’s triumph in the CAF African Nations Cup, adding several bronze medals to his remarkable collection.

9. Emmanuel Amunike: From Eziobodo to Barcelona

Hailing from Eziobodo, Owerri-West in South-East Nigeria, Emmanuel Amunike embarked on his professional football journey with Concord in 1990, spending a year before joining Julius Berger. His talent and prowess on the field caught the attention of Spanish giants Barcelona, making him the only Nigerian player to don the renowned jersey of the Catalan club.

Amunike’s stint with Barcelona, though lasting four years, was highlighted by a single successful season. Despite this, 1994 proved to be a pinnacle year for him. Not only was he crowned the African Player of the Year, but he also played an instrumental role in Nigeria’s victory in the CAF Nations Cup.

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10. Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha: The Unforgettable Maestro

Born on August 14, 1973, Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha’s football journey began on the streets of Enugu, eventually propelling him to professional stardom as an attacking midfielder. Despite not winning the African Player of the Year award, Okocha is widely regarded as Nigeria’s best player and one of the finest to emerge from the continent.

A key figure in the golden era of Nigerian football, Okocha’s trophy cabinet boasts about eight titles with his club. While some may not be major trophies, they symbolize his impact and contributions to the sport. Okocha’s skillful play, vision, and creativity on the field have solidified his legacy as a football maestro.

Nigeria has produced footballing legends who have not only left an indelible mark on the global stage but have also amassed an impressive collection of trophies. These decorated footballers have not only brought glory to themselves but have also played a crucial role in elevating Nigerian football to new heights. As we celebrate their achievements, it’s a testament to the rich footballing history that continues to inspire the next generation of Nigerian talents.


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