We lined up seven Super Eagles stars, from Arsenal hero Nwankwo Kanu to Ajax star Finidi George.
1. Nwankwo Kanu
International Caps: 86. Goals: 13
Nigeria’s Nwankwo Kanu has been named among the Top 48 world football legends by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS). IFFHS released the first phase of the list which includes Brazilian greats Pele and Ronaldo da Lima. Notable Africans on the list include former World player of the year George Opong Weah, Roger Milla, Rabah Medjer, Muhammed Aboutrika, Mohmud El-Khatub and former Bafana Bafana captain Lucas Radebe. FFHS were formed in 1984 under FIFA’s approval and they focus on archiving football records, statistics and records of associations across the globe. Kanu was the last Nigerian to win the CAF African Footballer of the Year award in 1999. He played for Ajax, Inter Milan and Arsenal. #Arsenal #kanu #Nigeria #vir#IFFHS
During his 20-year playing career, King Kanu won pretty much every medal going: Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Cup, Champions League and Olympic Gold. Along the way, he scored for everyone from Ajax to West Bromwich Albion, but his star strikes came for Arsenal and Nigeria. He played 197 games for the Gunners and netted 44 goals. He also won 86 caps for his country. His career was affected by a heart defect and he founded the Kanu Heart Foundation in 2000 to help kids with similar problems.
2. Jay-Jay Okocha
International Caps: 73. Goals: 14
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‘So good they named him twice’ was the chant at Bolton when Okocha was dribbling past opponents in the early 2000s. Make that three times – when the ‘African Maradona’ moved to Turkish club Fenerbahçe, he adopted the name ‘Muhammet Yavuz’. In truth, he never quite matched up to Maradona’s achievements – twice runner-up for African Footballer of the Year, a runners-up medal with Bolton in the League Cup and 12th on the Greatest African Footballers of the Last 50 Years list. But he did win Olympic Gold in 1996.
3. Sunday Oliseh
International Caps: 54. Goals: 2
Sunday Oliseh’s career as Head Coach of Nigeria has been a bit of an own goal. He quit in February 2016 after just eight months in charge – perhaps his previous experience in charge of a Belgian third division club wasn’t the best preparation. But when it comes to his skills as a player, no one can doubt his place in this Super Eagles Top 7. He played club football for giants Ajax, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund, and his miracle strike to defeat Spain at the 1998 World Cup in France is part of Nigerian folklore.
4. Rashidi Yekini
International Caps: 58. Goals: 37
Yekini’s career was a game of two halves. When he burst on to the global scene at the 1994 World Cup, he was African Footballer of the Year and top scorer at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier that season. Then he scored Nigeria’s first ever World Cup goal, against Bulgaria, and clubs across Europe were waving their chequebooks. But he didn’t score again that summer and a move to Olympiakos ended after just a few months. He eventually returned to Nigeria to play out his career, before ending up as a recluse in Ibadan. Yekini’s sad tale came to an end in 2012, when he died at the age of just 48.
5. Stephen Keshi
International Caps: 54. Goals: 2
Stephen Keshi has had plenty of success on both sides of the touchline for Nigeria. As a player, he captained the national team, as well as propping up the defence of various Belgian club sides. As a coach, he has taken charge of three national squads: Togo, Mali and the Super Eagles themselves. Finally, if you’re looking for a good pub quiz question, he’s one of only two people to win the Africa Cup of Nations as both a player and coach.
6. Taribo West
International Caps: 42. Goals: 0
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These days, Taribo West has switched from a defender on a mission to a pastor with a mission. The mighty Super Eagle, who grew up in a gang-ridden area of Lagos and witnessed his best friend being stabbed, fought his way up from the streets to soccer stardom. He played club football everywhere from France to Serbia and won league titles, an Olympic Gold and 42 caps along the way. Now, though, his famous green dreadlocks have disappeared and sermons have replaced soccer as he preaches the good word in Lagos.
7. Finidi George
International Caps: 62. Goals: 6
Former Nigerian right-winger Finidi George has enjoyed a trophy-laden career. He scored on his debut for the Super Eagles against Burkina Faso and went on to appear 85 times for Ajax and 130 times for Spanish side Real Betis. He finished off his playing career on the Balearic island of Mallorca, after which he hung up his boots and pulled on his flip-flops to live by the beach in Palma and coach the Mallorca Under-16s.
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