Who is the best Nigerian footballer of all time?Sports and Crypto Betting Insights - Sportsbet Blog

Who is the best Nigerian footballer of all time?

Who is the best Nigerian footballer of all time?

Nigeria is viewed as one of the powerhouse countries in football, and they’ve made a profound history in the sport, with impressive players cementing themselves as legends. Find out about these stars who helped their country stand proud among other football nations.

Nigeria is known for producing talented athletes in different sports. In football, some names left a mark and inspired the current generation of players. These are the best stars who also represented Nigeria in international football competitions.

Find out who are the standout players for Nigeria below and decide who’s the best Nigerian footballer of all time for yourself:

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Nwankwo Kanu

One of the biggest Nigerian legends, Kanu has a super résumé and is one of the most skilled players in Nigerian history. He was part of the 2003/04 Arsenal squad that went unbeaten in the Premier League.

He was also a star player for the Nigerian national team, where he managed to shine as their star striker from 1994 to 2011. He played 86 matches and scored 11 goals for the team as a connecting forward and scorer.

Aside from Arsenal, he played for clubs like Ajax, Inter Milan, and Portsmouth, where he won the 2008 FA Cup. He mostly played as a steady forward that helped his teams perform better because he moved well off the ball and made smart passes that kept the offence going.

His consistency helped him become a star on the Nigerian football scene. That helped him win the African Footballer of the Year award in 1996 and 1999, further boosting his reputation as one of the best representatives of the continent in the football scene.

As one of Nigeria’s most memorable football players, Kanu continues to build his legacy by partnering with Sportsbet.io to advocate for crypto’s involvement in football and the online betting industry.

A member of the Invincibles

The 2003/04 Arsenal squad is favourably regarded and seen as the best team. They went an entire Premier League season without losing a match, which was later popularly known as the ‘Invincibles’ campaign. Kanu had a massive role then, as he was a key piece on the Arsenal bench.

Manager Arsene Wenger holds Kanu in high esteem. He was the legendary manager’s best piece of business when Arsenal scooped him up from Inter Milan for £4.15 million in the January 1999 transfer window.

It was a stellar signing for Arsenal because Kanu would become the club's key player in the next few years. They managed to win two Premier League titles with Kanu in the side as he factored in as one of the best backup players in English’s top-flight league.

Vincent Enyeama

Most people would gravitate towards the offensive players because they either score the goal or make the play happen. That is not the case for goalkeepers because they have the unenviable task of being the last line of defence. They often catch flak, but their job is challenging.

Enyeama had to deal with this since youth because he possessed a tall and strong body, perfect for goalkeepers. Growing up with the Nigerian titan club Enyimba, Vincent became the country’s best goalkeeper. He even got a clean sheet against England’s elite players like Michael Owen, David Beckham, and Paul Scholes at the 2002 World Cup.

Enyeama quickly became the Super Eagles’ first-choice keeper through the years for his good mix of physical traits, imposing presence, and reaction saves. He became indispensable for the national team while he grew into a solid professional for clubs like Hapoel Tel Aviv and Lille.

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Mikel John Obi

Obi was a rock-solid midfielder and a reliable player who knew how to take control of the ball, and he used his football IQ to keep the plays going with pinpoint passes and communication.

Obi also played defensive midfielder because he knew how to match up well against forwards and other midfielders. He is tall at 6’1, making him a versatile player since he has the body to compete with most opponents.

He was a legend for the Nigerian national team from 2005 to 2019, but his club career was headlined by one club, Chelsea. Obi made 249 appearances for the Blues, and while he only scored one goal, he was reliable for most managers. He was a solid piece that could fit in any system, making him a mainstay through the years.

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Rashidi Yekini

Yekini is seen as the prototype for Nigerian forwards because of his mix of power and finesse during his time with the national team. He had a legendary career to look back on, with stints across multiple countries, including Greece and his native Nigeria.

In 62 international caps, Yekini scored 37 goals which is the record to this day. He was also notable for being the first Nigerian to score in the World Cup in 1994 against Bulgaria.

Yekini has solid accolades to his name, including his participation as the star player for Nigeria’s 1988 Summer Olympics team. In this prestigious competition, he scored a goal against Yugoslavia.

The 1994 African Cup of Nations victory was also a huge accolade for Yekini as he topped the goal charts in that competition with five goals. He was also awarded the Best Player of the Competition for that AFCON run.

Joseph Yobo

Yobo was a solid leader for his team’s backlines. He worked hand-in-hand with Enyeama to prevent the ball from getting past them. He broke out as a top-tier defender in 2002 when he was deployed across different roles by then-manager Festus Onigbinde.

He played as a defensive midfielder when the team ran a 4-3-3 formation, but he also played as a right-back and his natural centre-back role in the classic 4-4-2 formation.

Yobo is the perfect example of a versatile defender who shined for all his teams. The Nigerian defender played in many teams, but his best stint was with Everton in the Premier League. He played 196 matches for the Toffees and scored eight goals.

Nigeria’s future in the international football scene

The 2022 World Cup was heartbreaking to watch for Nigerian football fans, as this was the first time they did not qualify in 16 years. They lost to Ghana in the qualifiers on the away goals rule after they drew 0-0 in Ghana and 1-1 in Nigeria.

They want to stay competitive in the next few years, especially since they have a promising squad filled with eager Nigerian stars. This is spearheaded by forwards Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze, stars for the country and their clubs. Nigeria wants to build around them because they recognise that the two players are their team's foundation.

Nigeria’s eyes are locked on the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifiers because they want to return to the big stage. They’re doubling their efforts to develop young stars into pillars of Nigerian football’s future.

Make your Sportsbet.io bets on Nigeria’s top stars

Place a bet on matches played by the Nigerian national team right here at Sportsbet.io. With the variety of betting markets, you can look for matches played by prominent stars from the country, like Osimhen and Napoli.

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Cholo Martin25 Apr 2023

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