The Maestros: Top Nigerian Midfielders Of All Time.(Checkout Our List Here)

When it comes to great players in the history of Nigeria football, the list is both long and controversial—especially when it comes to the midfield position. These players have their names etched in the history books of Nigerian sports.

These men for years stood tall as patriots of the Nigerian nation and played with their hearts. As they passed and dribbled the ball, gave the fans a show and sponsors a run for their money, they put smiles on faces for life.

However, this list is meant to be read as a celebration of these Nigerian greats than it is a debate. Here is a list of Nigeria’s greatest footballers of all time.

So read on to a list “celebrating” 10 of the greatest Nigerian midfielders of all time. There are certainly others, but there’s no doubting the presence of these 10.

10. HENRY NWOSU

We kick this list off with one of the best midfielders in Nigeria football in Henry Nwosu. And while the ACB Lagos star might not possess the legacy and long-lasting impact that some others in this list have, there’s little doubting that he will go down as one of the true greats of the game. The gifted midfielder, Nwosu was the youngest member of Nigeria’s victorious 1980 African Nations Cup squad, and scored the only goal for Nigeria at the 1980 Olympics. He also played in the 1982, 1984 and 1988 tournaments, finishing runners up in the latter two, with his last game for Nigeria coming in 1991.

9. EMMANUEL AMUNIKE

Emmanuel Amunike is another name that simply must be on this list. The Nigeria international was fundamental to the nation’s success throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s and will go down as one of the country’s best midfield players of all time. Amunike played 27 times for Nigeria, scoring nine goals. He was part of the team that participated at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States, scoring against Bulgaria and Italy; also in that year, he helped the Super Eagles win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia, eventually being voted African Footballer of the Year.

8. FINIDI GEORGE

A legend of the game, George was an incredibly talented player who so often showed moments of absolute genius going forward with the ball at his feet. Finidi made his debut for Nigeria in 1991, in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Burkina Faso, providing three assists for Rashidi Yekini and scoring once in a 7–1 win. He helped the national team win the 1994 edition of the tournament in Tunisia,and also achieved one second[13] and two third-place finishes.

Finidi represented Nigeria in two FIFA World Cups, 1994 and 1998. In the former, held in the United States, as the national team won their group and exited in the round of 16 against eventual finalists Italy, he scored against Greece in a 2–0 win, proceeding to mimick a urinating dog whilst celebrating.

7. MIKEL OBI

Need we say more with Mikel John Obi? Mikel is one of the greatest No. 10’s in the history of Nigeria football, with his constant presence in the middle of the field leading to great success for Chelsea and Nigeria alike.

Mikel represented the Nigeria under-20 team at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship and won the Silver Ball for the second-best player at the tournament (behind Lionel Messi) as the Africans finished runner-up to Argentina. At the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, Mikel was a key player for Nigeria as they went on to win their third continental title. He was named by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in the team of the tournament alongside teammates Vincent Enyeama, Efe Ambrose, Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike.

6. MUDASHIRU LAWAL

Mudashiru Lawal is one of the true Nigeria midfield greats in history and one whose impact on the game will be remembered. Muda won 86 caps and scored 12 goals for his country, and holds the record of being the only player on the continent to have appeared at five consecutive Nations’ Cup finals (1976–1984).

Lawal guided Nigeria to its first African Nations Cup title, at the 1980 African Nations Cup. The team also competed at the Summer Olympics the same year. Lawal died in his home in 1991. The Ashero Stadium in his hometown Abeokuta was named after him upon his death.

5. KANU NWANKWO

Kanu’s career achievements list reads as one of the best in world football—winning titles with Arsenal, Ajax, Inter Milan, Portsmouth and with the Nigerian national team. Kanu was a member of the Nigerian national team from 1994 to 2010, making his debut in friendly against Sweden. Earlier on at the start of his career, Kanu was instrumental in Nigeria’s overall success at the 1993 FIFA U-17 tournament in Japan and their subsequent 2–1 victory over Ghana in the final.

As well as winning the Olympic gold in the football event at 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he scored the winning goal in the 4–3 semi-final win over Brazil, his second goal of the match.Kanu participated in the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups. On 24 June 2010, Kanu ended his international career following Nigeria’s exit from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

4. SUNDAY OLISEH

Sunday Oliseh was a complete player. He played in midfield, in attack, he scored goals, he could mark, head and cross”. A physical yet technically gifted defensive midfielder, Oliseh played for world-famous clubs such as AFC Ajax, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus F.C..

Oliseh played 63 international matches and scored three goals for Nigeria, and played at the Football World Cups of 1994 and 1998. Oliseh also participated in the Olympic gold medal winning team of 1996. Sunday Oliseh was voted Africa’s 3rd best footballer in 1998 by CAF.

He is mostly remembered for scoring the winning goal in the group stage match against Spain in the 1998 World Cup, as Nigeria prevailed 3–2.

3. MUTIU ADEPOJU

Mutiu was an elegant dribbler who constantly caused havoc going forward. He has a legendary status in the Nigerian National Team. Adepoju was a member of the Nigeria team that played in the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship. His brace against the United State in the semi-finals ensured a final against Portugal, in a 0–2 defeat.

Adepoju went on to collect 48 caps for the Nigeria side, with six goals. He made his debut against Togo in August 1990, but his breakthrough came during the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations, and he helped his nation win the next continental edition. Adepoju was part of the squads for the FIFA World Cups in 1994, 1998 – where he scored in a 3–2 win against Spain.

2. SEGUN ODEGBAMI

Segun “Mathematical “Odegbami was simply that good, and anyone who’s watched the tape back to the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations will see why he is now heralded as one of the greatest Nigerian Midfielders of all time. He won 46 caps and scored 23 goals for the National Team, and guided Nigeria to its first Africa Cup of Nations title at the 1980 tournament in his homeland.

Nicknamed Mathematical, he was famous for his skill on the ball, speed and precision of his crosses from the right wing. He played for IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan his entire career, from 1970 to 1984. His last game was the 1984 African Champions Cup final defeat to Zamalek of Egypt.

1. JAY-JAY OKOCHA

We finish off this list with one player that is definitely worth noting. Okocha has been an iconic player of the past two decades. A quick and skillful playmaker, who is considered as the best Nigerian and one of the best African players of all time, Okocha was known for his confidence with the ball, technique, creativity, and dribbling skills, as well as his use of feints, in particular the stepover. Due to his skill, he was described as being ‘so good that they named him twice’.

Okocha made his official debut for Nigeria in their 2–1 1994 FIFA World Cup Qualifier away loss against Ivory Coast in May 1993. It was not until his second cap and home debut that he became a favourite with the Nigerian supporters. With Nigeria trailing 1–0 against Algeria, in a match they needed to win, he scored from a direct free kick to equalise, before helping the team to a 4–1 win, eventually securing qualification to their first World Cup. In 1994, he was a member of both the victorious 1994 African Cup of Nations squad. And the World Cup squad who made it to the second round before they lost in a dramatic match against eventual runners-up Italy.

What do you think of our list? Share your thoughts in the comment box.

About Peter Okiokpa

Electronics Engineer. Digital Entrepreneur. Blogger. Writer. Christlike.😇

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