In the history of the Nigerian national football team, there have been players who have stayed longer than others and have carved a niche for themselves.
From Rashidi Yekini to Nwankwo Kanu to Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, this illustrious list goes on and on and goes a long way to portray the fact that Nigeria has produced some of the finest set of players in world football.
These select few have worn the Green White Green with pride and passion and have served the nation well and for years, culminating in them becoming the most capped players in Nigeria’s football history.
Let’s take a look at 10 of the most capped Nigerian footballers of all times.
Osaze Odemwingie earned his debut for Nigeria against Kenya in 2002, and went on to become an integral member of the squad. He scored his first goal in a 2004 AFCON qualifying match against Angola and also starred for Nigeria at the Olympics in 2008, featuring as one of the over aged players.
He scored in the quarter-final of the competition against Ivory Coast but will go on to lose the final versus Argentina, with the team claiming the silver medal.
He had a total of 65 appearances for the national team, scoring 11 goals.
Peter ‘Dodo Mayana’ was Nigeria’s first choice goalkeeper in the nineties, carving out a niche for himself in between the sticks with his impressive shot-stopping skills.
He won the 1994 African Cup of Nations in Tunisia where he looked spirited in goal, including turning out at two editions of the World Cup. He had a total of 66 senior appearances for the national team.
The late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi was an ever dependable defender and became the first of Nigerian footballer to win the Nations Cup both as a player and as a coach.
After captaining the team to the trophy in 1994, he was in the dugout as the team claimed their third continental title in 2013.
He turned out 68 times for Nigeria, scoring nine goals.
Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha
Jay-Jay Okocha is regarded as the best Nigerian player of his generation and one of the greatest African players of all time, and rightly so.
On his day, he could virtually do anything with the ball and his performances for club and country during his playing days backed it up.
He won the 1994 edition of the Nations Cup, earned the runner-up spot in 2000 and finished third place thrice in 2002, 2004 and 2006.
He was also part of the most complete and talented team Nigeria had seen, the Atlanta Olympics ’96 gold medal team in men’s football. Okocha finished his international career with 73 caps.
Till today, Muda Lawal holds the record of being the only player on the continent to have appeared at five consecutive Nations’ Cup finals (1976– 1984).
The former Shooting Stars FC legend was instrumental in helping Nigeria to her first African Nations Cup triumph at the 1980 edition of the African Nations Cup. He earned 86 caps, scoring 11 goals.
Nwankwo ‘Papilo’ Kanu is one of the most decorated players of his generation. He is one of the very few to have won the Premier League, the FA Cup, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Cup and an Olympic Gold Medal.
Papilo made 86 senior appearances for Nigeria, scored 13 goals.
John Obi Mikel
The recently retired John Obi Mikel had quite an amazing career with the Super Eagles, representing Nigeria at five Nations cup including two World Cup tournaments.
The Chelsea legend who mostly was a leader figure during his time in the national team, went to five African Cup of Nations, won a bronze medal in 2018 and also an Olympics bronze medal in 2016.
He had 90 appearances for the team, scoring six times before calling time on his international career recently.
Ahmed Musa is the current skipper of the national team and recently helped the team pick up an AFCON bronze in Egypt.
He has won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013 to go with the WAFU Nations Cup he got in 2010.
He is the only Nigerian player to have scored braces at two editions of the World Cup (versus Argentina and Iceland respectively). He has 91 caps and 17 goals to his name so far.
Joseph Ikpo Yobo was an imposing, strong and gritty player during his time with the national team. Yobo was regarded as one of the best defenders in world football in his time.
He captained the national team to the 2013 African Cup of Nations gold trophy and after a loss to France in the World Cup round of sixteen in 2014, bowed out of the international scene.
Vincent Enyeama posted a plethora of industrious performances for Nigeria during his time with the national team. He is one of the finest goaltenders the country has ever seen and his unceremonious retirement seem to have left a big void in the team up till this day.
He was one of the 2013 AFCON winning crop and share the all-time joint most caps (101) with Yobo for the national team.