In this article, we have ranked Victor Osimhen amongst the top 10 Nigerian footballers of all time, ahead of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in the Ivory Coast.
The Napoli striker is amongst the favourites to finish as the tournament's top scorer, having topped the charts in qualifying with 10 goals. But how far does that get him up this ladder of the highest-flying Super Eagles?
Top 10 Nigerian footballers of all time
10. Segun Odegbami
Segun Odegbami was a forward who played for Nigeria between 1976–1981. He earned 47 caps for the Super Eagles, scoring 22 goals, and is their second-highest scorer of all time. Odegbami was part of the Nigerian team that won their first AFCON in 1980, and was the top scorer in that tournament, netting twice in the final as Nigeria beat Algeria 3-0, while he was also named in the CAF Team of the Tournament.
9. Stephen Keshi
Stephen Keshi is an ex-Nigeria manager, having led his nation to AFCON glory in 2013. As a player, he was a defender who earned 64 caps for the Super Eagles between 1981–1995. He captained his country to their 1994 AFCON victory, the only Nigerian to have won the tournament as both a player and a coach, and also represented the Super Eagles at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
8. Joseph Yobo
Joseph Yobo is the joint-second highest-capped Nigerian player of all time, with 101 appearances for his country. The defender has represented the Super Eagles at an astonishing six AFCONs and three World Cups, and was captain of the team that won AFCON in 2013. Yobo played over 200 times in the Premier League at club level, mainly at Everton but also in a loan spell at Norwich City.
7. Sunday Oliseh
Sunday Oliseh is another former Nigeria manager to make it onto the list, and is widely regarded as one of the best African midfielders of all time. He was primarily a defensive midfielder, but combined physicality with technical ability, which saw him play at the some of the elite clubs in European football in his career.
Sunday played for Juventus, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund among others, winning league titles at the latter two, and earned 54 caps for Nigeria between 1993–2002. He also won AFCON in 1994, an Olympic gold medal in 1996, and also played in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups.
6. Finidi George
Finidi George currently manages Nigerian side Enyimba, and as a player was a right-winger for the national team between 1991–2002. He earned 62 caps, scoring and providing three assists on his debut in a 7-1 rout against Burkina Faso, and won AFCON in 1994.
George also appeared in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, and at club level, was highly successful at Ajax. He played in consecutive UEFA Champions League finals, winning in 1995, and lifted eight major honours there, including three Eredivisie titles.
5. John Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel had a highly successful career for both club and country. He won 11 major honours at Chelsea, including two Premier League titles and the Champions League, and is the fourth-most capped player in Nigeria's history with 91. Mikel won AFCON in 2013, and was also voted in the Team of the Tournament, while he was also runner-up for the African Footballer of the Year award in the same year.
4. VICTOR OSIMHEN
Currently, we regard Victor Osimhen as the fourth-best Nigerian footballer of all time, although he could easily climb to the top come the end of his career. At just 24 years of age, he is already his country's fourth-highest scorer of all time with 20 in 28 caps, which gives him the best goal-to-game ratio (0.71) of the current top 10.
Ten of his goals came in qualifying for AFCON 2023, where he finished as the top scorer, and Nigeria also topped the charts with 22. Osimhen was also Serie A top scorer in Napoli's 2022/23 title-winning season with 26 goals, and as one of the best strikers on the planet, has been linked with mega-money moves to some of the biggest clubs in world football. Super spenders Chelsea seem to be his likeliest suitors at present.
3. Rashidi Yekini
Rashidi Yekini is Nigeria's all-time top scorer with 37 goals in 62 caps. He won AFCON in 1994, finishing as the tournament's top scorer with five goals, and was named as the best player. Yekini also scored the Super Eagles' first-ever goal at a World Cup in 1994, played in 1998, and was named African Footballer of the Year in 1993.
2. Nwankwo Kanu
Nwankwo Kanu's 86 Nigerian caps is the joint-fifth most a player has earned, while he also scored 12 goals between 1994–2011. Incidentally, he never won AFCON with the Super Eagles, but was named African Footballer of the Year twice in 1996 and 1999.
At club level, Kanu had successful spells at a number of top clubs in Europe, including winning the Champions League at Ajax with fellow countryman Finidi George, the UEFA Cup at Inter Milan, and two Premier League titles at Arsenal.
The forward also won the FA Cup at Portsmouth, where he scored the winning goal in the 2008 final against Cardiff City.
1. Jay-Jay Okocha
So good, they named him twice. Jay-Jay Okocha ranks seventh in terms of all-time Nigeria caps with 73, while he also scored 14 goals for his country. Known in particular for his trickery and dead-ball skills, the attacking midfielder is widely regarded as one of the best African players of all time.
He came close to winning African Footballer of the Year three times, but was named Nigerian Footballer of the Year on a staggering seven occasions. Okocha won AFCON in 1994, and was the best player (and top scorer) at the 2004 tournament, while he was also part of the 1996 Olympic gold medal-winning team.