The Most Famous

SOCCER PLAYERS from Nigeria

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This page contains a list of the greatest Nigerian Soccer Players. The pantheon dataset contains 16,923 Soccer Players, 134 of which were born in Nigeria. This makes Nigeria the birth place of the 23rd most number of Soccer Players behind Switzerland and Austria.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Nigerian Soccer Players of all time. This list of famous Nigerian Soccer Players is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Nigerian Soccer Players.

Photo of Jay-Jay Okocha

1. Jay-Jay Okocha (1973 - )

With an HPI of 63.12, Jay-Jay Okocha is the most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 42 different languages on wikipedia.

Augustine Azuka "Jay-Jay" Okocha ( ə-KOTCH-ə; born 14 August 1973) is a Nigerian former professional footballer who played as an attacking midfielder.

Photo of Nwankwo Kanu

2. Nwankwo Kanu (1976 - )

With an HPI of 59.08, Nwankwo Kanu is the 2nd most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Nwankwo Kanu OON (born 1 August 1976) is a Nigerian former professional footballer who played as a forward. He was a member of the Nigeria national team, and played for Nigerian team Iwuanyanwu Nationale, Dutch side Ajax, Inter Milan of Italy, and English clubs Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion and Portsmouth.Kanu won a UEFA Champions League medal, a UEFA Cup medal, three FA Cup medals and two African Player of the Year awards amongst others. He is one of few players to have won the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup and an Olympic Gold Medal. He made the third-most substitute appearances in Premier League history, appearing from the bench 118 times, and is regarded as one of the best players in African football history.He is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and African brand ambassador for digital TV operator StarTimes. He is also the owner of Kanu Sports TV, an Internet sports television company.

Photo of Taribo West

3. Taribo West (1974 - )

With an HPI of 59.07, Taribo West is the 3rd most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Taribo West (born 26 March 1974) is a Nigerian pastor and former professional footballer who played as a defender. He is best remembered for his various unusual and colourful hairstyles.After winning several major trophies with Auxerre in French football, West went on to play for both Milanese clubs, Internazionale and Milan. He also appeared in the top-level leagues of England and Germany. At international level, West made 42 caps for Nigeria between 1994 and 2005, taking part in two World Cups and two African Championships. He also represented his country at the 1996 Olympics, winning a gold medal.

Photo of Rashidi Yekini

4. Rashidi Yekini (1963 - 2012)

With an HPI of 58.93, Rashidi Yekini is the 4th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Rashidi Yekini (23 October 1963 – 4 May 2012) was a Nigerian professional footballer who played as a striker. He is all-time top goalscorer for his nation. His professional career, which spanned more than two decades, was mainly associated with Vitória de Setúbal in Portugal, but he also played in six other countries besides his own.Yekini scored 37 goals as a Nigerian international footballer, and represented the nation in seven major tournaments, including two World Cups where he scored the country's first-ever goal in the competition. He was also named the African Footballer of the Year in 1993.

Photo of Emmanuel Amunike

5. Emmanuel Amunike (1970 - )

With an HPI of 57.81, Emmanuel Amunike is the 5th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 26 different languages.

Emmanuel Amunike (born 25 December 1970) is a Nigerian football coach and former professional football player who played as a winger.

Photo of Tijani Babangida

6. Tijani Babangida (1973 - )

With an HPI of 57.80, Tijani Babangida is the 6th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Tijani Babangida (born 25 September 1973) is a Nigerian former professional footballer, who played as a winger. Known for his pace, his playing style was sometimes compared to that of Marc Overmars. Babangida spent the majority of his playing career at Ajax. Overall, he played in five countries on three continents. At club level, Babangida spent nine years in Netherlands, playing for VVV-Venlo, Roda JC Ajax, and Vitesse. winning the Eredivisie plus KNVB Cup double with the latter side. He played over 30 games for his national side, including four at the 1998 World Cup in France. He participated in two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and won the 1996 Olympics with Nigeria. Babangida made his international debut in 1994. He lost his place in the squad right before the 2002 World Cup. After a two-year lay-off from international football, Babangida was recalled to the Nigeria team for the 2004 African Cup of Nations preparations in Tunisia.

Photo of Finidi George

7. Finidi George (1971 - )

With an HPI of 57.74, Finidi George is the 7th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

George Finidi (born 15 April 1971), known as Finidi George, is a Nigerian professional football coach and a former footballer who played as a right winger. He is currently the head coach of Nigeria Professional Football League club Enyimba F.C. After making a name for himself at Ajax in the Netherlands – being a leading figure in a team which won eight major titles, including the 1995 Champions League – he played several years in Spain with Real Betis, also having a brief spell in England before retiring. Finidi was an important member of the Nigeria team during the 1990s, appearing in two World Cups. Finidi played throughout his footballing career for Nigeria with his iconic number 7 Jersey. In September 2021, Enyimba F.C.announced Finidi George as their new head coach.

Photo of Obafemi Martins

8. Obafemi Martins (1984 - )

With an HPI of 57.06, Obafemi Martins is the 8th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Obafemi Akinwunmi Martins (born 28 October 1984) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays for Chinese Super League side Wuhan Zall as a forward. He is known for his speed on the ball. After leaving Nigeria for Italy at age 16, he has since played for a number of top-division clubs around Europe. He began his senior career in 2002 at Serie A club Inter Milan, before moving to Premier League club Newcastle United in 2006, and then to Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg in 2009. Having joined Russian Premier League side Rubin Kazan in July 2010, they loaned him to Birmingham City in January 2011. In club football, Martins has won the Serie A title, the Italian Cup (twice), and the Italian Super Cup, all with Inter. With Birmingham he scored the winning goal in the 2011 Football League Cup Final. He has played European football with Inter, Newcastle and Wolfsburg, winning the UEFA Intertoto Cup with Newcastle. His highest scoring league seasons so far have seen him score 11 goals in the 2004–05 Serie A, and 17 in both the 2006–07 Premier League and 2014 MLS. In international football, Martins has been in the Nigerian squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006, 2008 and 2010, and for the FIFA World Cup in 2010. He played for Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer from 2013 to 2015, scoring 40 goals, before moving on to China. Martins had two brothers who also played football professionally. His elder brother, Oladipupo Martins, played for Reggiana, Partizan and Innsbruck before retiring from football in 2009 due to heart problems. He died on 8 August 2011 of a suspected heart attack in Lagos, Nigeria. Martins' younger brother is John Ronan Martins. The name "Obafemi" translates literally to "the king loves me" in the Yoruba language.

Photo of Sunday Oliseh

9. Sunday Oliseh (1974 - )

With an HPI of 56.56, Sunday Oliseh is the 9th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Sunday Ogochukwu Oliseh (born 14 September 1974) is a Nigerian football manager and former player. In his active playing career he played as a midfielder. He is widely regarded as one of the best African midfielders of all time

Photo of John Obi Mikel

10. John Obi Mikel (1987 - )

With an HPI of 56.51, John Obi Mikel is the 10th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 58 different languages.

Mikel John Obi (born 22 April 1987) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder for Kuwait Premier League club Kuwait SC. Mikel began his career with local club Plateau United, before joining Norwegian club Lyn at the age of 17 in 2004. In 2006, he made a controversial transfer to English club Chelsea after Manchester United claimed they had already signed him. He stayed with Chelsea for 11 years, before moving to China with Tianjin TEDA in 2017. After two years in China, he returned to England on a short-term deal with Middlesbrough, before joining Trabzonspor on a free transfer in July 2019. Mikel moved back to England in August 2020 joining Stoke City. In a 14-year international career between 2005 and 2019, he played 91 times for Nigeria, scoring six goals.

Pantheon has 134 people classified as soccer players born between 1954 and 1999. Of these 134, 127 (94.78%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include Jay-Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, and Taribo West. The most famous deceased soccer players include Rashidi Yekini, Stephen Keshi, and Wilfred Agbonavbare. As of October 2020, 20 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Victor Osimhen, Godwin Okpara, and Mudashiru Lawal.

Living Soccer Players

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Deceased Soccer Players

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Newly Added Soccer Players (2020)

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Which Soccer Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 7 most globally memorable Soccer Players since 1700.