Nigeria is one of the most successful African footballing nations. As a result, there has been an excellent array of Nigerian footballers who have played at the very highest level over the years. While there are many to pick from, we’ve selected some of those who became household names below.
Jay Jay Okocha
There is only one place to start with a list of the most famous Nigerian footballers of all time, and that’s with Jay Jay Okocha. As they all say, Okocha was that good; they had to name him twice, and he was renowned for effectively pulling off outrageous pieces of skill. While he was already a household name when he switched to Bolton in the Premier League, his arrival, if he was playing now, would have seen Bolton’s odds of winning games shorten at all competitive sportsbetting bookmakers, for sure. Such was the impact he had.
John Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel’s rise in football is an interesting one because the defensive midfielder had agreed to join Manchester United, but Chelsea paid the money to get him out of the agreement to take him to Stamford Bridge, which proved to be a great decision. In terms of Nigerian footballers winning trophies, he’s won it all and then some. But, it wasn’t just while starring for Chelsea that he was successful because he was also integral in helping the Super Eagles win the African Cup of Nations in 2013. You will struggle to find a more successful Nigerian footballer.
Nwankwo Kanu is a bit of a cult hero for many, with the tall striker being less of a target man and proving himself a very capable footballer with the ball at his feet. Like Mikel, Kanu happens to be a super successful Nigerian footballer, and he made his name at Ajax, where he became a Champions League winner. From there, Kanu was always destined for success, and during his time in North London with Arsenal, he lifted the Premier League trophy twice. As well as being the African footballer of the year on two occasions, he also won Olympic gold for his country.
We’re going to finish this list with another very famous Nigerian footballer in the form of Obafemi Martins. And, while you could claim that there have been more successful players from Nigeria over the years, Martins just seemed to be loved at every club he played for. He made the switch from Inter Milan to Newcastle United in 2006, and this is where his career really took off in terms of him, like Kanu, becoming somewhat of a cult figure. What also helped Martins to establish himself as a famous Nigerian footballer was his pace, which made him the ideal choice on video games such as FIFA and Football Manager. Winning the Serie A title and League Cup also helped.