5 January 2017
The Glo Caf awards will hold on Thursday, January 5, 2017 and awards will be handed out to elected winners, with the most coveted award being the African Footballer of the year award.
The top category, African Footballer of the Year award is a contest between last year winner, Pierre Aubemeyang and Algeria’s midfielder, Riyad Mahrez.
For more than a decade, no Nigerian has won the top award. Some have gone close and most times, Nigerians don’t make the final list.
A number of Green Eagles/Super Eagles legends have gone close to winning Africa’s most prestigious individual football award, but missed.
Segun Odegbami: Green Eagles (1976 – 1982)
Nicknamed ‘Mathematical’, Segun Odegbami is one of the best Nigerians to have ever played football. Odegbami was part of IICC Shootings stars of Ibadan’s golden era. He played a key role in the club’s triumph in the 1976 African Cup Winners Cup. IICC was the first Nigerian outfit to win a continental title.
Odegbami inspired Nigeria to her first ever African Nations Cup trophy at the 1980 AFCON hosted by Nigeria where Nigeria beat Algeria 3 – 0 in the final with Segun Odegbami scoring two.
He is Nigeria’s all-time second-highest goal scorer with 23 goals. He came close to winning the top award in 1977 and 1980. He lost to Tunisia’s Tarak Dhiab in 1977 and the then Cameroon Captain, Jean Manga Onguene was chosen ahead of him in 1980.
Finidi George –Super Eagles (1991 – 2002)
Finidi George is one of the three Nigerians who have won the UEFA Champions League. He, alongside Kanu Nwankwo were part of the Ajax Amsterdam team that won the 1995 UCL title edging past AC Milan 1 – 0. Apart from the Champions league, he also won three Dutch league titles (93/94, 94/95 & 95/96)
Finidi was once described as the best right winger in the world. His No. 7 jersey became synonymous with grace and elegance as he ran past defenders delivering passes that seemed to simplify the work of his strikers. He was part of the Nigerian team to lift the country’s second African Cup of Nations title in Tunisia in 1994.
The International Federation of Football History & Statistics, (IFFHS) recently rated Finidi as the 10th best African Player of the last century. Finidi, who was never nominated for the AFPOTY award is one of the legends who should have won.
Daniel Amokachi – Super Eagles (1990 – 1999)
Nicknamed “The Bull”, Daniel Owefin Amokachi is the first player to score in the UEFA Champions League in its present format introduced in 1992. Amokachi’s goal secured a 1 – 0 win for Club Brugge in the opening match in the group stage against CSKA Moscow in the 1992/1993 UEFA Champions League.
The Bull was part of the Nigerian team that won the 1994 African Nations Cup. He scored in the final against Argentina to help Nigeria win Gold medal in Men’s Football at the 1996 Olympics games in Atlanta.
Amokachi was close to winning the award twice in 1995 and 1996. In 1995, he was in third place behind compatriot, Emmanuel Amuneke and eventual winner, George Weah of Liberia. He also lost in 1996 to George Weah and winner, Kanu Nwankwo.
Sunday Oliseh – Super Eagles (1993 – 2002)
Sunday Ogochukwo Oliseh was nominated for CAF African Player of the Year award in 1998 following a brilliant performance with Dutch club, Ajax Amsterdam where he helped the club to win the fourth league title in five seasons.
Oliseh was a no nonsense midfielder and remains one of the few Nigerians to have played in big European teams. Oliseh featured for Ajax, Borrusia Dortmund and was a teammate of Zinedine Zidane in Juventus in 1999/2000.
He was part of the Nigerian team that won the 1994 African Cup of Nations and Olympic Gold Medal in Atlanta 96. His wonderful goal against Spain in 1998 FIFA world cup in France is one of the thunderous moments in the history of the competition.
Oliseh was close to winning in 1998 but lost to Morocco’s Mustapha Hadji. He was expected to make the final list in 2002 having won the Bundesliga league title with Borrusia Dormund and also runner ups in the UEFA CUP but Egypt’s Mido and Senegalese duo of Papa Bouba Diop and El-Haji Diouf were nominated in the final three. That may not be unconnected with Nigeria’s poor performance at the Korea/Japan World Cup thesame year.
Austin Jay Jay Okocha : Super Eagles (1993 – 2006)
Although Jay Jay is one of the most recognized faces of Nigerian Football and sports in recent years, Football lovers across the world will not forget the story of Jay Jay Okocha and African Player of the year Award. He was described as the ‘unluckiest’ when it comes to CAF’s award. He is arguably the best player never to win the award.
Okocha has made different lists of best players in the last century. He is one of the most skillful players to have graced the game.
Okocha was part of the 1994 AFCON winning squad. He won silver at the 2000 edition of the tournament co-hosted by Nigeria and Ghana. He was part of the Super Eagles team that qualified for Nigeria’s first World Cup in 1994. Two years later, he won a Gold Medal with the Dream Team in Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.
He went close to winning the award three times (1998, 2003 & 2004). In 1998, he was second behind Morocco’s Mustapha Hadji. In 2004, he was tipped by many to win after emerging as the top scorer and the Most Valuable Player at the African Cup of Nations in Tunisia but lost to Samuel Eto’o Fills who had beaten him and Didier Drogba to win the award in the previous year.
Okocha however won the inaugural BBC African Footballer of the Year in 2003 and the successive one. In 2007 He was voted number 12 on the greatest African footballers of the past 50 years’ list, on a poll conducted by CAF to coincide with their 50th anniversary.
Additional Reports from Goal.com, Kwesesports.com and BBC Football Africa.
Author: Timilehin Boyinde
Oluwatimilehin Boyinde is a research writer and a social media strategist. A public affairs analyst, he writes about history, politics, sports, life matters and technology. He is passionate about happenings in Local and international political arenas. He is an avid Manchester United fan and an unapologetic Nigerian.