Who Are Some Of The Top Nigerian Athletes Of All Time?
Nigeria is a country with a deep love and passion for sports. Much like in the rest of Africa (and the World for that matter), in Nigeria football is the most popular sport. Nigerians play and watch football from a very young age, so it isn’t all that surprising that the country has produced many excellent players. Today, a lot of Nigerian footballers play in England, and many other European countries.
When it comes to the Nigerian national team, it is one of the finest, if not the best African national football team. If we take a look at African international football competitions, we could notice that the sports betting odds often favor the Nigerian national men’s team. And the same can be said for the women’s national football team, which has been a dominant force.
But as is the case with the rest of Africa, it is not only football that Nigerians follow. The country has produced quite a few athletes in sports like football, basketball, and of course, athletics. In fact, it is debatable whether athletics is as popular as football in Africa, or maybe even more so. Whatever the case may be, one thing is certain: Nigeria has produced quite a few of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen. So, in this article, we are going to take a look at a few of the top Nigerian athletes of all time.
Perhaps one of the most popular and most successful Nigerian footballer of all time, Augustine Azuka Okocha, more commonly known as Jay-Jay Okocha spent 15 years playing football for the Nigerian national football team. During his time, he played in over 70 games, and participated in three FIFA World Cups, the most recent iteration of which is taking place in less than a week.
Jay-Jay Okocha is widely regarded as one of the best Nigerian footballers of all time. In fact, his reputation goes further, as he is also considered to be one of the best African players of all time. Apart from his international career, Okocha has also played in quite a few popular European clubs, including Bundesliga’s Eintracht Frankfurt, France’s Paris Saint-Germain, and England’s Bolton Wanderers (who played in the Premier League at the time).
At this point in time Jay-Jay Okocha is retired. However, he still holds quite a few honors and awards, not just issued by his home country, but also Europe as well. Among them he holds the Goal of the Year award, the African Footballer of the Year award, and has been a member of the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team.
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Known across the world as Enee, Udo-Obong is a Nigerian sprinter, who is commonly regarded as one of the best athletes to come out of the country. Born in the early 80s, Enee has earned two university degrees, one in Human Anatomy from the University of Calabar, and the other in Sports Administration and Technology. However, what he is best-known for is his status as one of Nigeria’s most successful sprinters.
In fact, he is the only Nigerian sprinter to have won two Olympic medals. His first medal he acquired in 2000, during the Summer Olympics, where he won the gold medal in 4 x 400 meter relay. Four years later, during the next Summer Olympics he also won the bronze medal in the same discipline. Udo-Obong is also an author, who has written a popular motivational book titled “The Silver Lining: Turning Major Setbacks into Major Victories”.
Hogan “Kid” Bassey was one of the most popular African boxers in his time. Bassey began his boxing career in Nigeria, where he won 14 contests. After his success in his home country, Hogan moved to England, where he competed in Liverpool. It was during his stay in Liverpool that Mr. Bassey truly made a name for himself. He won the Empire featherweight championship and the world crown in 1957, becoming the first Nigerian boxer in history to be called world champion.
During his time in the ring he faced off quite a few notable opponents, including Cherif Hamia, Davey Moore, Billy Kelly, etc. Once he retired, Bassey went back to Nigeria, where he served as a boxing coach. Throughout his life, he was awarded many honors, including the Order of the Niger, Nigeria’s highest honor.
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