Who’s The Greatest Striker In 60 Years Of Nigerian Football?

Who’s The Greatest Striker In 60 Years Of Nigerian Football?

Culled from Operanewsapp.com

Goal scoring is the most difficult aspect of football. It is that final act by a player to put the ball behind a goalkeeper. It is what determines winning and losing matches.

The players that master this art are revered. They are a special breed in a special class, and they are not bought in the market place. In Nigeria, the number of those that can claim to have been true centre forwards, true goal scorers, that can be listed amongst the best in the country’s history, is very small.

I called up strikers’ nemesis, goalkeepers, the players that are in the last line of stopping them from scoring goals, to make their choices of ‘the best striker in Nigerian football since 1960’.

These are their responses and choices.

1. Amusa Adisa, Popolito: Green Eagles 1970/72

Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun was very tall, big and strong. His physique was really intimidating. He was fast, very intelligent, a great dribbler, and had very deadly shots. That’s why he was called ‘Thunder’. His shots were like cannons even from a distance. He was hard to deal with in the box and was a real target man.

Also Read: The Greatest Playmaker In 60 Years Of Nigerian Football!

The Bulldozer Amusa Shittu. He was a born striker – big, very strong, could shoot with both feet and muscled his way through defenses. Always more than a handful for defenders. With the ball at his feet goalkeepers used to panic. A defender had to be very strong to handle him and contest aerial balls with him.

Sunny Oyarekhua was not a powerful player, even though he scored several goals. He was good too.

Thompson Usiyen was a great scorer. He was not intimidating to defenders but was very dangerous, clever, knew how to score goals and would convert most chances.

Rashidi Yekini was a very deadly striker. Tall, he did not have the strength of the traditional strikers to intimidate and shake off defenders, but he had great shooting skills, positions himself well to receive passes, and was very fast with martial ability.

Kanu Nwankwo. A good goal scorer but not a striker in the old tradition of centre forwards that can wade through defenses, fight their way through and score. His presence did not intimidate defenders. Yet, he was clever but not powerful. He did not look strong and fearful and goalkeepers would ordinarily not fear him. But that’s what made him so dangerous. He was under-rated.

All the other strikers after Rashidi Yekini have been unable to match him, so they can’t come into reckoning.

So, for me, the most lethal, the greatest undoubtedly, is ‘Thunder’ Teslim Balogun. There has never been a more complete striker than him.


Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun

2. Emmanuel Okala ‘Tallest’Green Eagles 1972/80

Sunny Oyarekhua scored many goals in our time. He had speed and style, and very clever. Hard to find any one better.

Also Read: Nigeria’s Greatest Number 7 Since 1960!

That is, until Thompson Usiyen. Usiyen’s trickery was something else. A very clever and cunning player. He would shoot when a goalkeeper least expected. He did not need space to put the ball away. He was a natural goal-scoring machine. With his back against the goal, from near the centre circle, he turned and lifted the ball beyond a Moroccan goalkeeper for an impossible goal that was disallowed for its ‘impossibility’. His goals were always dream goals. He was slick, slippery and brilliant.

Kanu Nwankwo was great too, but Usiyen was a better finisher in front of goal. Kanu was more of a midfield player than an out and out striker like Usiyen, or Oyarekhua. He scored great goals too.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Obafemi Martins, Odion Ighalo, and all these modern strikers…no, no, no.. they are good but not of the striking level of the old centre-forwards.

My top choice is Thompson Usiyen. He was just so good!

3. Joseph Erico, Jogo Bonito – Green Eagles 1970 -1976

Thunder Balogun had an awesome reputation.

Amusa Shittu stood out for his strong striking ability. He was called the Bull dozer. He would always get a goal. Not very skillful, but full of muscle and determination.

There was Lawrence Agbogbovia, a 1968 Olympian. He had total focus on scoring goals. Very good scorer.

Sunny Oyarekhua was very good too, he converted most chances he got. Very consistent.

Thompson Usiyen. He was known as ‘the more you look the less you see’ because he scored randomly. He was full of tricks, speedy, and very clever. He left Nigeria too early. He would score from nothing, when you least expected.

Rashidi Yekini. I loved him. Excellent positioning. Always asking for the ball and his focus was always to score. Put the ball in front of him, he will run and shoot. He missed many chances but scored many more too. Goalkeepers feared him always.

Kanu Nwankwo. He was not the typical striker. More a midfielder who could score goals. He did the creating, the distribution and the scoring. He had great skills and ability. Smart with the ball.

New generation of traditional strikers returned from Victor Ikpeba, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Obafemi Martins, and now Odion Ighalo.

The one I will like to dismantle, that was crafty and exceptional, that many goalkeepers would fear to face, is Thompson Usiyen. He is my choice.

4. Peter Rufai, Dodo Mayana – Green Eagles 1983 – 1998

Sunny Oyarekhua was a slick player, not aggressive at all, not rugged also, but a good and consistent striker.

Thompson Usiyen was very, very fast, clever, full of trickery. He scored several incredible goals coming in from the wings even as a striker.

Emmanuel Osigwe was also good. He was forceful and powerful but played for a very short time.

Rashidi Yekini eclipsed Daniel Amokachi and Samson Siasia‘s goal scoring prowess. They became support strikers even though they were both good strikers too.

Rashidi used his long legs well, he was very fast and would shoot where others would fear. He played like a desperado, and that was the edge he had over defenders.

After Rashidi it became hard to find strikers of that calibre.

Kanu Nwankwo came but was a different kind of goal scorer, not a true centre forward. Goalkeepers did not fear him because he did not play with force or power. He was technically very gifted. He would create and score his own goals from nothing.

Also Read: Greatest Left-Winger In Nigerian Football In 60 Years!

Rashidi and Kanu dwarfed new strikers like Aiyegbeni, Ighalo and so on. No goalkeeper would like to face Rashidi. He had luck, speed, anticipation, power and technique. He could smell goals coming!

Rashidi Yekini is my obvious choice of the greatest striker.


Rashidi Yekini

5. Zion Ogunfeyimi, ‘Omoba’ – Green Eagles 1974 – 1976

Amusa Shittu was a very rugged striker.

Sunny Oyarekhua was a fine striker too but not aggressive.

Thompson Usiyen was a slick, beautiful, sneaky striker. He did not have powerful shots but could score from anywhere in the box. He was very dangerous on the ball. With little space he could pick his spots and place the ball away from the goalkeeper rather than shoot. He was a fine dribbler and meandered through defenders whilst on the move. He was the perfect marksman.

Rashidi Yekini was different. He did not have Usiyen’s dribbling skills, but was equally dangerous, running into open spaces around defenders, and creating a little space to release his bullets from both feet. Thompson could dribble his way to goal and score, Rashidi could only run with the ball to goal and score.

Kanu Nwankwo is like Thompson, always thinking and dribbling, but he needed support in his own case. He was equally clever and knew how to score without too much shooting power.

New generation of strikers? They may be good but in the real classic sense of the centre forward, alone upfront, they do not come close.

Who would I not want to face as a striker? Rashidi Yekini. He is my choice.

Odion Ighalo

6. Ike Sorounmu, Anobi – Super Eagles 1994 – 2002

Rashidi Yekini, Gangling. Any time, any day he is the complete striker. His whole body and mind were about scoring goals, putting the ball behind goalkeepers. He took goal scoring very seriously, either at training or in a match. He did not joke with goals. He did not have too much skills, but he had a nose for goals and knew how to score them.

Ifeanyi Onyedika. He was very intelligent, no power, but a fine striker. He knew how to score goals.

Another great striker was Daniel Amokachi, ‘the bull’. He was a real point man, but Rashidi‘s presence did not give him enough opportunities as a full striker. He used every part and energy of his body to score goals. He was a rugged and determined striker.

Rashidi towered above all others. He is my choice of the very best.

7. Dosu Joseph. – Super Eagles – 1996 – 1997

Rashidi Yekini. He is the only one. I saw what he did to goalkeepers. He would come from nowhere to score goals with speed, power and great shots. He waited for opportunities like a hunter and would release cannons from both feet. He could shoot from a distance too. He used his head very well. He was a complete striker. He needed little space before shooting.

He was closely followed by Daniel Amokachi. The Bull did not score as many goals as Rashidi but was more headache for defenders, always harassing them with his power in the box. He placed his balls rather than shoot at goal. He knew how to hold and shield the ball very well.

But my King of strikers remains Rashidi Yekini.

Segun Odegbami

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  • The greatest finisher Africa has ever had is Yakubu Aiyegbeni.

    Before you reply, the keyword is “finisher”

    • Dr. Drey 4 years ago

      Hahahaha….that was why he “finished” us in the world cup…LMAO

  • Dr. Drey 4 years ago

    “…E fi kini yi s’iwajuu…”
    36 goals in 57 appearances. The greatest of all time.
    Rest in peace Ye-king…!!!

  • Abdul 4 years ago

    So, when does this become a debate?. We haven’t had anyone better than Yekini. The figure says it all.

  • Chima E Samuels 4 years ago

    Wow the first comment by Bolu almost ripped me apart. But it’s not his fault if great Sege will forget to include Julius Aghawonder then I won’t blame Bolu to also make a calamitous choice. 

    Now let’s go straight to the main selection which will mainly compose of personal opinion but I will try as much as possible to be sincere over likeness. If by virtue we say King Kanu is the greatest of all time then it shouldn’t be a debate that he is the best striker scoring goals with ease both especially in Europe if we can go back to highlights.

    My number two will be Rashidi purely because of his killer instinct and no home or away scoring mentality. One of his match against Real Madrid how he terrorized and made a fun of them is one of the highlights I hold till date.

    Third on my list is based on tenacity and conversation rate with buzzling speed and shocking the whole stadium wherever he plays be it in Nigeria Europe USA or Asia is Obafemi Martins who always gets the job done except for injuries and no wonder when I checked on his highlights the only player that matches his scoring instinct in today’s Africa is Eto if anyone doubts let him go and check on YouTube for videos before the debates starts.

    Fourth on the list will go to Julius Aghahowa even though he never really achieved lots of tops success in terms of medals like the aforementioned guys but he still remains a legend in Nigeria and Shaktar in Ukraine for his never say die attitude and conversation rate.

    Kanu Rashidi Obagoal Julius…… in this order I give my vote for the various reasons as I stated above…. Yakubu and Ighalo has good or even better strike rate but their costly misses is just too hurting to think of sometimes.

    The future is bright for Nigeria in Osimhen and co so we hope to have an even better strikers in future because records are meant to be broken.

    • Success Adewale 4 years ago

      King Kanu was a false 9 but his flair and achievements will make me choose him as well Chima

    • Chima your sense of judgement makes me feel you played the game before. I wanted to go for the Yek before but when you see talent In the shape of Messi vs Hard worker CR7. You will be force into confusion but end up with talent. I remember Kanu against Arsenal hmmm. 1. Kanu 2.Yekini

      • Ademola lawal 4 years ago

        You guys comparing rating Kanu above yekini are doing great injustice to this topic the only credit that can be given to Kanu is that he gave to us our brightest moment in football at Atlanta apart from this Kanu is just an average striker and I say this with all sense of history of all the leagues he played in he never emerged as the best striker even within his clubs and his numbers are not encouraging in the national team against a player who had 37 goals in 58 matches for his national team and was highest goal scorer of many leagues home and abroad compare his goal rates in terms of percentage of matches played with that that of Ronaldos and the likes you get what I’m saying,to get the best appraisal for king Kanu,never rate him as a striker but rather rate him as a footballer his place is right up there

    • Chima E Samuels 4 years ago

      Guys I would have gone for Yekini if we had a supporting striker role but you guys have said it all. Me I always admire hard work but talent from God is something that of added with little hard work and intelligence will make you best in the craft. Kanu achievements was way too much compared to the great Yekini both in Africa and Europe that is why I choose him. Yekini still remains a legend but make una ask Sege why he pit YEKINI and KANU in same category.

    • Ademola lawal 4 years ago

      Near perfect observations but I disagree with you on Kanu,yes he is a good player but can’t be compared to yekini in terms of striking abilities that will be a a great crime against football,never forget you are talking about a player in yekini that appeared in 5 nations cups and became highest goal scorer in 4 against a player who appeared in 6 nations cup without a single goal,how do you justify your assessment on this?

  • All time Nigeria highest goals scorer, 2 time African footballer of the year, Y-E-K-I-N-l. We call any new rising Nigerian striker “The New Yekini”…
    Surprised not to see Aghahowa among the list too

  • Olufemi Adeboye 4 years ago

    To me the best striker is the gangling one Late Rashidi Yekini,for someone to even compare Aiyegbeni to Rashidi is out of it.The record is there for people to see

  • GLORY 4 years ago

    He brings the fire of anger unto the pitch, becomes a charging roaring lion facing the opponents goal, more often looking like one,truly possessed. That puts such scare on opponents defenders, goal keepers n supporters. The Ivorian who saw him live many many times, especially during his time at Africa sport will tell this story better. He was so scary n unplayable, that it seemed they TOUCHED him to quench his during that 1994 nations Cup. After that game, it started becoming a slow down slide for THE GREATEST EVER STRIKER TO COME OUT FROM NIGERIA TILL DATE. REST IN PEACE BABA Y.E.K.I.N.G YEKINI. WE CAN NEVER FORGET YOU, FOR YOUR BODY IS DEAD BUT YOUR MEMORIES LIVES ON.

  • Pascal 4 years ago

    Kanu scoring goals like play like player no be gragra but yekini self dey vex o. The two of them good Biko I no go choose anyone

  • Collins id 4 years ago

    I think rashidi yekini is number 1 striker he comes ahead of kanu as far as nigeria is concern. Kanu indeed was great in arsenal but not to be compared to rashidi yekini achievments both in Nigeria and portugal.

  • Ademola lawal 4 years ago

    Mention his name in cotdvoire,portugal and even in Spain they will all agree about an hero,he was everywhere he went to,yekini was not just an hero in Nigeria alone,he is one in cotdevoire Portugal Spain and Africa at large,m ay his soul rest in perfect peace,we are still in search of your incarnate may your spirit help us in finding one

  • Edoman 4 years ago

    Thunder Balogun is my #1 striker of all time. He played for the Lagos ‘Pan Bank’ in the late forties and fifties. l personally had the privilege of a life time to watch him in Edo vs Pan Bank match in 1952 at King Square, Benin City as a 10 years old kid. Edo eleven met him again in Lagos for the final of the ” Governors Cup. Thunder Balogun was the best Striker through out Africa. He was the first Nigerian player to ever play in the English premier league for ‘Ranger football club. To this day, no Nigerian player have met his standard. He is unforgettable.

  • Thunder Balogun

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