The prestigious African Footballer of the Year award has been won only five times by Nigerian players, two of them by one player, Nwankwo KANU in 1996 and 1999. Rashidi Yekini (1993), Emmanuel Amuneke (1994) and Victor Ikpeba (1997) are the other winners.
As the CAF Awards 2019 ceremony beckons in Egypt tonight, Completesports.com highlights other previous occasion when Nigerian players came close to winning it, but lost it.
Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha: 2nd in 1998; 3rd in 2003, 2004
Former Nigeria international and Super Eagles midfield maestro, Austin Jay Jay Okocha leads the Nigerian stars who came very close to winning the CAF African Footballer of the Year award during their illustrious careers.
Okocha’s miss was the most painful as the former PSG star came close on THREE occasions, especially in 1998 when Morocco’s Mustapha Hadji beat Jay Jay to the award with just two points after scoring 76 points to Okocha’s 74 points.
Then, Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o won in 2003 while Okocha came third behind Didier Drogba in second spot. The same scenario was repeated a year later in 2004 with Eto’o claiming the gong beating Drogba and Okocha to second and third spot respectively. Okocha was plying his trade with Bolton Wanderers in England in 2003 and 2004.
Okocha however, emerged the Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the 2004 African Cup of Nations in Tunisia while the BBC named him as the Best African Player back-to-back in 2003 and 2004.
Sunday Oliseh: 3rd in 1998
The former Super Eagles skipper came third behind compatriot, Austin Okocha and winner, Mustapha Hadji in the 1998 CAF awards. Oliseh was in splendid form for Dutch side, Ajax Amsterdam during the period as well as posting commanding performances for Nigeria at the France ’98 World Cup.
Daniel Amokachi: 3rd in 1995, 1996
Da Bull, as he is fondly called by Nigerian fans during his playing days with the Nigerian national team came third on two occasions in the African Footballer of The Year results; in 1995 while starring for Everton in England and in 1996 while playing for Turkish side, Besiktas. George Weah won the awarrd in 1995 while Nwankwo Kanu won in 1996.
Taribo West: 3rd in 1997
The former Super Eagles central defender aside his exploit for Nigeria, had a superb season while starring for Inter Milan in the Serie A which earned him a third place finish in the CAF awards in 1997 won by compatriot, Victor Ikpeba.
Vincent Enyeama: 3rd in 2014
The former Super Eagles goalkeeper’s splendid form for French Ligue 1 side, Lille as well as his dominant display for Nigeria earned him a third place finish in the 2014 CAF awards behind runners-up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and winner, Yaya Toure of Cote d’Ivoire.
JOHN OBI MIKEL: 2nd in 2013
Former Super Eagles skipper, Mikel came closest like Okocha to winning the CAF African Footballer of The Year award in 2013 only to lose it to Ivorien and Manchester City star midfielder, Yaya Toure.
Mikel’s experience and superb display in the Super Eagles’ midfield helped Nigeria to her third African Cup of Nations title in South Africa. He also featured prominently for Chelsea, helping them to the UEFA Europa League title in 2013. Mikel’s feat was however, not enough to displace Toure who completed a hat-trick of the CAF top award in 2013.
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