Several national Nigerian football teams of all age categories had very influential captains and also led their teammates to win one or more trophies. Complete sports reporter, Sulaiman Alao travels through memory to write about the golden captains of Nigerian football, including Christian Chukwu and the late Stephen Keshi …
KELECHI NWAKALI – Captain, Golden Eagles, 2015
The talented attacking midfielder was the captain of the Golden Eaglets team that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile in 2015, where he also won the Golden Ball Award.
Nigeria beat Mali 2-1 in the final and won the title for the current record five times. He later progressed to star in the under-20 and under-23 teams and has an upper limit on his credit.
He is currently with SD Huesca in the Spanish LaLiga 2.
JOSEPH YOBO – Captain, Super Eagles, 2013
Yobo was the captain of the Super Eagles team that won the 2013 African Nations Cup, held in South Africa, where Nigeria won Burkina Faso 1-0 and won the trophy for the third time.
The former Everton defender is also one of the most covered Nigerian players, alongside goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, with 101 games each.
Yobo was recently appointed assistant coach for the Super Eagles.
MOHAMMED MUSA – Captain, Golden Eagles, 2013
The versatile defender was the captain of the Golden Eaglets team that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2013.
Nigeria beat Mexico 3-0 in the final. He later performed on the U-20 team and the Super Eagles. He currently plays professional football in Europe with HNK Gorica in Croatia.
LUKMAN HARUNA – Captain, Golden Eagles, 2007
He was the captain of the Golden Eaglets team that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in South Korea in 2007. Nigeria beat Spain 3-0 on penalties in the final after playing as a goalkeeper in regular time.
Lukman played for the under-20 and under-23 teams and then starred in the Super Eagles at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The former Monaco striker still plays active football.
NWANKWO KANU – Captain, Dream Team, 1996
Considered the golden boy of Nigerian football, Kanu was the captain of Nigeria's under-23 team, popularly known as Dream Team, to win the gold medal at the 96th Atlanta Olympic Games football event.
Nigeria defeated Argentina 3-2 in the epic final. Papilo as the former Arsenal star is affectionately called, he remains the most decorated Nigerian player to date and was twice the African footballer of the year in 1996 and 1999. He retired from active football in 2012.
STEHEN KESHI – Captain, Super Eagles, 1994
The late Stephen Keshi is one of the main icons of Nigerian football. Keshi was the captain of the Super Eagles team that won the 1994 African Nations Cup, held in Tunisia, where Nigeria beat Zambia 2-1 in the final to lift the cup a second time.
He also led Nigeria to qualify for its World Cup debut that same year. Keshi was also the first indigenous coach to win the African Nations Cup for Nigeria in 2013.
Nicknamed "Big Boss" for his charisma and influence, Keshi respectfully opened the way for the exodus of Nigerian players to play professional football abroad in the 1980s. He died on June 7, 2016.
WILSON ORUMA – Captain, Golden Eaglets, 1993
Wilson Oruma led the Golden Eaglets team that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Japan in 1993. He also emerged as the tournament's top scorer with 6 goals.
Nigeria beat Ghana 2-1 in the final. Oruma went on to play in Nigeria's Under-23 and Super Eagles. The former Marseille midfielder from Spain played top football in Europe for several years before retiring in 2010.
NDUKA UGBADE – Captain, Golden Eaglets, 1985
Nduka Ugbade was the captain of the Golden Eaglets team that won the inaugural edition of the FIFA / Kodak U16 World Cup in China in 1985. Nigeria beat West Germany 2-0 in the final. The feat was Nigeria's first in world football.
The former defender of Castellón of Spain started to star in the under-20 team and the Super Eagles in the 90s. He is currently a coach.
CHRISTIAN CHUKWU – Captain, Green Eagles, 1980
Chukwu was the influential captain of the Green Eagles team that won the 1980 African Nations Cup, organized in Nigeria. Nigeria beat Algeria 3-0 in the final played at the National Stadium in Lagos and won their first AFCON trophy.
Nicknamed the "President", the former Enugu Rangers defender is considered one of Nigeria's best defenders of all time. He returned to training after his playing career and served as a coach for Nigeria and Kenya at some point.
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