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 21,273 Soccer Players, 147 of which were born in Nigeria. This makes Nigeria the birth place of the 23rd most number of Soccer Players behind Austria, and Switzerland.

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 (b. 1973)

With an HPI of 57.42, Jay-Jay Okocha is the most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 44 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. He won 73 caps for the Nigeria national team between 1993 and 2006, scoring 14 goals, and was a member of three FIFA World Cup squads. He is regarded as one of the greatest football players from Africa.He played across multiple leagues, starting his career at Enugu Rangers in the Nigerian Professional Football League before moving to Borussia Neunkirchen in the Oberliga Südwest, Germany's third division, in July 1990. He would play in the Bundesliga, Süper Lig, Ligue 1, Premier League, EFL Championship, and Qatar Stars League before his retirement in 2008.

Photo of Rashidi Yekini

2. Rashidi Yekini (1963 - 2012)

With an HPI of 52.45, Rashidi Yekini is the 2nd most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.

Rashidi Yekini (23 October 1963 – 4 May 2012) was a Nigerian professional footballer who played as a forward. 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 Victor Osimhen

3. Victor Osimhen (b. 1998)

With an HPI of 51.39, Victor Osimhen is the 3rd most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  Her biography has been translated into 47 different languages.

Victor James Osimhen (born 29 December 1998) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a striker for Serie A club Napoli and the Nigeria national team. Regarded as one of the best players in the world, he is known for his elite finishing, pace, strength and athleticism.Born in Nigeria, Osimhen began his senior career in Germany at VfL Wolfsburg in 2017. Following a season and a half at the club, he moved to Belgian side Charleroi on loan in 2018–19, before moving to Ligue 1 with Lille, scoring eighteen goals in his sole season with the French club. In 2020, Osimhen transferred to Serie A side Napoli for a club-record fee of €70 million, and won the Serie A Best Young Player award in the 2021–22 season. In the following campaign, he finished as the league's top scorer with 26 goals, a record-high for an African player, as he helped Napoli win a first Serie A title for 33 years. For his efforts, he won the league's Best Striker award, before also being named Serie A Footballer of the Year a few months later. Osimhen is currently the highest scoring African player in the history of Serie A.Osimhen won the Golden Boot award at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, which Nigeria won. He made his senior international debut in June 2017, and played at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019 and 2023, reaching the final of the latter tournament. He is currently the joint-third all-time highest goalscorer of the Nigeria national team. On 29 May 2023, Osimhen was made a Member of the Federal Republic by President Muhammadu Buhari.Osimhen finished in eighth place at the 2023 Ballon d'Or ceremony, becoming the first Nigerian to make the top ten of the French award. He was also named the African Footballer of the Year at the 2023 CAF Awards, the first Nigerian to receive this honour since Nwankwo Kanu in 1999.

Photo of Nwankwo Kanu

4. Nwankwo Kanu (b. 1976)

With an HPI of 51.22, Nwankwo Kanu is the 4th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.

Nwankwo Kanu () (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 Tijani Babangida

5. Tijani Babangida (b. 1973)

With an HPI of 51.08, Tijani Babangida is the 5th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 28 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 Taribo West

6. Taribo West (b. 1974)

With an HPI of 48.86, Taribo West is the 6th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 28 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, Inter Milan and AC Milan. He also appeared in the top-level leagues of England and Germany. At international level, West won 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 Emmanuel Amunike

7. Emmanuel Amunike (b. 1970)

With an HPI of 48.29, Emmanuel Amunike is the 7th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.

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

Photo of Daniel Amokachi

8. Daniel Amokachi (b. 1972)

With an HPI of 47.80, Daniel Amokachi is the 8th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Daniel Owefin Amokachi (born 30 December 1972) is a Nigerian football manager and former professional player. As a player he was a forward who notably played in the Premier League for Everton and was part of their 1995 FA Cup winning team, he also played top flight football in both Belgium and Turkey with extended spells at Club Brugge and Beşiktaş. Whilst with Brugge in 1992 he scored the club's first goal in the UEFA Champions League. He also had a brief spells with Ranchers Bees, Colorado Rapids and Nasarawa United. He was capped 44 times by Nigeria, scoring 13 goals. His spell in international football saw him win the African Cup of Nations in 1994 and a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics. He was also present in his nations squads for 1994 FIFA World Cup and 1998 FIFA World Cup. Upon retiring, Amokachi moved into coaching and has spent time as manager of Nasarawa United, Enyimba, Ifeanyi Ubah and JS Hercules. He has also spent two spells as assistant coach of Nigeria, as well as managing his nation in an interim basis from 2014 to 2015.

Photo of Obafemi Martins

9. Obafemi Martins (b. 1984)

With an HPI of 47.44, Obafemi Martins is the 9th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.

Obafemi Akinwunmi Martins (born 28 October 1984) is a Nigerian former professional footballer who played 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 he moved 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. He spent a season with La Liga club Levante, he played for Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer from 2013 to 2015, scoring 40 goals, before spending several years in China with Shanghai Shenhua and Wuhan. 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.

Photo of Kelechi Iheanacho

10. Kelechi Iheanacho (b. 1996)

With an HPI of 46.75, Kelechi Iheanacho is the 10th most famous Nigerian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Kelechi Promise Iheanacho () (spelled Ịheanachọ in Igbo) (born 3 October 1996) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a striker for EFL Championship club Leicester City and the Nigeria national team. A prolific goalscorer with creative abilities, he was a highly promising talent during his youth. He is nicknamed Senior Man and is renowned for his vision, dribbling, speed and finishing. Iheanacho began his senior career at Manchester City during the 2015–16 season, winning the Football League Cup. He moved to Leicester City in 2017 for a reported £25 million fee, the largest ever transfer amount for a Nigerian player at the time and the second-largest for an African player after Egyptian Mohamed Salah. Iheanacho was instrumental in Leicester City's 2020–21 FA Cup success, scoring a joint-high four goals across the edition as the club won the trophy for the first time. He also scored the match's sole goal from the penalty spot as Leicester lifted the 2021 FA Community Shield. At international level, Iheanacho represented Nigeria's under-17 team at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, being named the tournament's best player and finishing as the second-highest goalscorer as he led the side to their record fourth title. He would then be included in Nigeria's under-20 team for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, before making his senior international debut later that same year. Since then, he has represented the country at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and at the 2021 and 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, finishing as runner-up in the latter tournament. Iheanacho was elected the Most Promising African Talent twice in 2013 and 2016, also being named as a substitute for the CAF Team of the Year in 2016.

People

Pantheon has 176 people classified as Nigerian soccer players born between 1952 and 2002. Of these 176, 167 (94.89%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Nigerian soccer players include Jay-Jay Okocha, Victor Osimhen, and Nwankwo Kanu. The most famous deceased Nigerian soccer players include Rashidi Yekini, Stephen Keshi, and Wilfred Agbonavbare. As of April 2024, 30 new Nigerian soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Victor Boniface, Segun Odegbami, and Michael Emenalo.

Living Nigerian Soccer Players

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Deceased Nigerian Soccer Players

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Newly Added Nigerian Soccer Players (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Soccer Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 9 most globally memorable Soccer Players since 1700.