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Nigeria Top Scorers of All Time

Thu 28 April 2022 | 4:30

Nigeria is one of those African nations to have produced some top footballers, and of course, some top scorers even at European leagues. In this post, we are to see who Nigeria top scorers of all time are and which one of them is actually Nigeria’s highest goal scorer in the world.

Before anything else, we should tell you that Nigeria highest goal scorer in World Cup, namely the active footballer, Ahmed Musa, with 4 goals, and Nigeria highest goal scorer in Europe, Yakubu Ayegbeni, with 160 goals scored in European leagues, are both on the list of Nigeria top scorers of all time - the former is actually the 12th and the latter the 3rd Nigerian top scorer of all time.

Both of the above-mentioned footballers, as already mentioned, are active and that means they can add to their World Cup or European goals in the future. Ahmed Musa is in front of the second Nigeria highest goal scorer in World Cup by two goals. Of course, we’d better say the second Nigeria highest goal scorers in World Cup, because they are three and all of them retired with 2 World Cup goals - for your information, they are Daniel Amokachi, Emmanuel Amunike, and Kalu Uche. So, Ahmed Musa, will probably remain Nigeria highest goal scorer in World Cup for the years to come unless we see some unexpected unfolding of events in the future.

And if you would like to know, Nigeria highest goal scorer in Europe, Yakubu Ayegbeni, is in front of the second Nigerian top scorer in Europe, the 53-year-old retired Jonathan Akpoborie, by 17 goals.

A List of Nigeria Top Scorers of All Time

Well, let’s see who Nigeria’s highest goal scorer in the world is and which footballers follow him on the list of Nigeria top scorers of all time.

Rashidi Yekini (37 Goals)

Number one on the list of Nigeria top scorers of all time and actually

Nigeria’s highest goal scorer in the world

, Rashidi Yekini is one of the two passed footballers on the list - at least among the first 12 footballers on the list - who served the Nigerian national team for 14 years between 1984 and 1998 making 62 appearances and scoring 37 goals for them in the process. That gets him an international goal-to-appearance ratio of 0.59 meaning that he almost scored 3 goals in every five of his international appearances. Yekini took part in two editions of FIFA World Cup, namely the 1994 and 1998 editions, and five editions of Africa Cup of Nations, actually the 1984, 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1994 editions, with the Nigerian national team. He actually became the first Nigerian footballer ever to have scored in a World Cup competition when he scored his first World Cup goal against Bulgaria in a 1994 World Cup group-stage match which ended in Nigeria’s 3-0 win. That was, indeed, his first and last goal ever in any World Cup matches he played in.

Yekini also won the 1994 edition of Africa Cup of Nations with the

Nigerian national team

becoming the best player and also the top scorer of the same competition with 5 goals. And in 1984, 1988, and 1990 editions of the African competition, the passed Nigerian footballer finished as runner-up with his country’s national team losing to Cameroon twice in the finals of the first two editions mentioned above. Here is Yekini’s stats concerning the number of appearances he made and the number of goals he scored at international level: Friendlies, 5 goals in 9 appearances, World Cup qualification rounds, 10 goals in 12 appearances, Africa Cup of Nations qualification rounds, 8 goals in 5 appearances, World Cup finals, 1 goal in 8 appearances, Africa Cup of Nations finals, 13 goals in 24 appearances, and finally Olympic Games qualification rounds, only 4 appearances. Yekini died in May 2012 at the age of 48 after a prolonged period of illness which, as they say, was due to some psychiatric conditions.

Segun Odegbami (22 Goals)

One of the old-timer footballers on the list of Nigeria top scorers of all time - he was born in 1952, Patrick Olusegun Odegbami, simply known as Segun Odegbami in the world of football, is a 69-year-old retired Nigerian forward who served the Nigerian national team for 5 years between 1976 and 1981 managing to score 22 goals in his 47 appearances for them. That actually gets him an international goal-to-appearance ratio of 0.46 meaning that he scored almost one goal (exactly 0.92) in every two of his international appearances. Odegbami never played in World Cup finals during his international career because Nigeria was never qualified for the global competition during this time, however, he took part in two editions of Africa Cup of Nations, namely the 1978 and 1980 editions, finishing as runner-up in the former edition as Nigeria lost 2-1 to Uganda in the final of the same competition and winning the latter edition netting two of the three goals his team scored in the competition’s final against Algeria which ended in their 3-0 win. Odegbami also became both competitions’ top scorer with 3 goals scored at each, of course, alongside other African footballers who had scored the same number of goals as him.

Odegbami also won a silver medal with the Nigerian national team in African Games - kind of an African competition resembling Olympic Games - in 1978. And here are Odegbami’s stats concerning his appearances and goals at international level: Friendlies, 3 goals in 11 appearances, World Cup qualification rounds, 4 goals in 16 appearances, Africa Cup of Nations qualification rounds, 3 goals in 4 appearances, Africa Cup of Nations finals, 6 goals in 10 appearances, African Games, 5 goals in 5 appearances, and finally one goal in one appearance in another international match we don’t know to which competition it belonged.

Yakubu Ayegbeni (21 Goals)

Nigeria highest goal scorer in Europe

with 160 European goals and the fourth highest African goalscorer in the Premier League history with 96 goals, Yakubu Ayegbeni is a 39-year-old retired Nigerian forward who served the Nigerian national team for 12 years between 2000 and 2012 making 58 appearances and scoring 21 goals for them in the process. That means Yakubu scored around one goal (exactly 1.08) in every 3 appearances for his country’s national team and although that may not look so impressive, it’s been enough to get him on the third place on the list of Nigeria top scorers of all time.

If you would like to know, Yakubu actually played in two European leagues during his club career: Israeli Premier League and the English Premier League and for teams like Everton,

Middlesbrough

, and Maccabi Haifa. He made a total of 250 appearances within the English Premier League and as mentioned above scored a total of 96 goals which made him the fourth highest African goalscorer in the Premier League history. However, let’s see how he did at International level. He actually took part in 2010 FIFA World Cup where he also managed to score a goal from the penalty spot in a group-stage match against South Korea which ended in a 2-2 draw, and although he took part in 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification round, he was not part of the Nigerian squad for the same competition’s finals.

Yakubu also took part in the 2002, 2004, 2008, and 2010 editions of Africa Cup of Nations and managed to score 4 goals in his 14 appearances in the African competition. You may ask why he didn’t take part in the 2006 edition of the competition and the answer to your question is that it was completely a personal decision from him to actually focus more on his club career and not because he was not called up to his country’s national team for that competition. Yakubu never won an African Nations Cup with the Nigerian national team, but he managed to finish on the third place three times in the 2002, 2004, and 2010 editions of the competition.

Here is his brief stats at international level concerning the competitions he took part in, the number of appearances he made and the number of goals he scored: Friendlies, 1 goal in 10 appearances, World Cup qualification rounds, 6 goals in 18 appearances, Africa Cup of Nations qualification rounds, 6 goals in 10 appearances, World Cup finals, 1 goal in 3 appearances, Africa Cup of Nations finals, 4 goals in 14 appearances, and finally other tournaments 3 goals in 3 appearances.

Ikechukwu Uche (19 Goals)

Having played in La Liga for most of his career, Ikechukwu Uche is a 38-year-old retired Nigerian forward who served the Nigerian national team for seven years between 2007 and 2014 making 46 appearances and scoring 19 goals for them in the process. That actually gets him an international goal-to-appearance ratio of 0.41 meaning that the scored around 2 goals (exactly 2.05) in every 5 appearances that he made for his country’s national team. And if you would like to know about his La Liga career, we should say he served six La Liga clubs, namely

Recreativo

, Getafe, Zaragoza, Villarreal, Granada and Malaga, in 9 seasons making a total of 194 appearances and scoring 42 goals for them in the process.

Back to Uche’s international career, he was actually part of the Nigerian national team who won the 2013 edition and advanced to the quarter-finals of the 2008 edition of Africa Cup of Nations, however, although Nigeria were qualified both for the 2010 and 2014 editions of FIFA World Cup, Uche was not part of his country’s national team in any of the editions mentioned above, though he played for them in both editions’ qualification rounds and even managed to score 5 goals overall. Here are Uche’s stats considering his international goals and appearances and in which competitions they actually happened: Friendlies, 5 goals in 16 appearances, World Cup qualification rounds, 5 goals in 12 appearances, Africa Cup of Nations qualification rounds, 9 goals in 11 appearances, and finally Africa Cup of Nations, only 7 appearances.

Obafemi Martins (18 Goals)

Only one goal behind his predecessor on the list of

Nigeria top scorers of all time

, Ikechukwu Uche, Obafemi Martins is a 37-year-old retired Nigerian footballer who is often known as an Inter Milan player since he actually served them more than any other club during his career; actually for 5 years between 2001 and 2006 during which he scored a total of 49 goals in 136 appearances for them. For your information, he left Nigeria for Italy at the very early age of 16, so there is no wonder his playstyle was kind of European. He’s also one of the moderately if not highly decorated footballers on the list who actually won a trophy or two with almost any club he served during his career, and add to this a handful of individual awards, too, however, he didn’t win an international trophy with the Nigerian national team. His best shot at this was finishing on the third place in 2006 and 2010 editions of Africa Cup of Nations.

Martins served the Nigerian national team sometime between 2004 and 2015 making 42 appearances and scoring 18 goals for them in the process which gets him a goal-to-appearance ratio of 0.42 meaning that he scored around 2 goals (exactly 2.1) in every 5 appearances that he made for his country’s national team. He took part in 2006, 2008, and 2010 editions of

Africa Cup of Nations

and 2010 World Cup with the Nigerian national team managing to score 3 goals in the former but none in the latter.

Here is a more detailed account of how Martins performed at international level concerning his appearances and goals: Friendlies, 4 goals in 8 appearances, World Cup qualification rounds, 9 goals in 12 appearances, African Nations Cup qualification rounds, 1 goal in 6 appearances, African Nations Cup finals, 3 goals in 12 appearances, World Cup finals, only 2 appearances, and finally other tournaments, 1 goal in 2 appearances. The most number of goals Martins managed to score in a single international match was in a 2006 World Cup qualification match against Algeria where he managed to score a hat-trick helping his team in a 5-2 win.

Samson Siasia (17 Goals)

The only footballer on the list of Nigeria top scorers of all time alongside his fellowman, Daniel Amokachi, to have managed the Nigerian national team after his career as a player, Samson Siasia is a 54-year-old retired Nigerian forward who is more known for his period with the Nigerian national team - and also Nigeria under-aged teams - as a manager than a player, though he achieved some honors with the Nigerian national team as a player, too. He actually managed Nigeria U20 team from 2005 to 2007, Nigeria U23 team from 2007 to 2010, Nigerian senior national team from 2010 to 2011 and another time in 2016. Maybe the two most notable events during Siasia’s managerial career were actually in 2016 when he was appointed as the head coach of the Nigerian national team and in 2019 where he was handed a lifetime ban by FIFA for some kind of match fixing which, of course, later was reduced to a 5-year ban plus the cancellation of some extra fines.

But back to Siasia’s international career as a player, he actually served the Nigerian national team sometime between 1984 and 1999 making 49 appearances and scoring 17 goals for them in the process which gets him an international goal-to-appearance ratio of 0.34 meaning that he scored around one goal (exactly 1.02) in every 3 appearances that he made for his country’s national team averagely. It might be interesting for you to know that with that number of international goals (17), Siasia was considered as Nigeria’s third top scorer of all time for some time. He actually took part in 1992 and 1994 editions of Africa Cup of Nations with the Nigerian national team to finish as third in the former and actually win the latter. He also took part in 1994 World Cup managing to score one goal against Argentina in the competition’s group stage.

Here is Siasia’s stats concerning his goals and appearances at international level: Friendlies, 3 goals in 3 appearances, 1994 World Cup qualification round, 3 goals in 12 appearances, African Nations Cup qualification round, 3 goals in 8 appearances, World Cup finals, 1 goal in 3 appearances, African Nations Cup finals, 1 goal in 8 appearances, CONCACAF Gold Cup, only 3 appearances, Intercontinental Cup, 1 goal in 3 appearances, 1988 Olympic Games qualification round, 4 goals in 3 appearances, and finally other tournaments, 1 goal in 6 appearances.

Odion Ighalo (16 Goals)

The first active footballer on the list of

Nigeria top scorers of all time

, Odion Ighalo is a 32-year-old Nigerian forward who’s been serving the Nigerian national team since 2015. Up to this date, he has scored a total of 16  goals in his 37 appearances for Nigeria which gets him an international goal-to-appearance ratio of 0.43 meaning that he has scored 2.15 goals in every 5 of his international appearances. Ighalo has not been internationally active since 2019. In fact, he announced his retirement from international football in the same year, though he has played in two matches of the 2022 World Cup qualification round against Cape Verde and Ghana in 2021, and 2022, respectively. If that fashion continues, he might probably add to his international goals and improve his position on the list, but of course, that also depends on the match he would play in.

Maybe the best year in Ighalo’s international career was 2019 in which he not only became the top scorer of 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification round with 8 goals but also the top scorer of the same competition’s finals with 5 goals, though he only managed to finish third in the competition with the Nigerian national team. It was actually the only edition of Africa Cup of Nations he took part in, and despite the fact that he was called up to his country’s national team for the next edition of the same competition (2022), he was banned by his current club,

Al Shabab

, to take part in the tournament. Ighalo also took part in 2018 World Cup but could not manage to score a single goal for Nigeria in that tournament.

Here is a brief stats of how

Ighalo

performed internationally concerning the number of his goals and appearances at international level and of course the type of competitions he took part in: Friendlies, 2 goals in 12 appearances, 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification round, 8 goals in 8 appearances, World Cup qualification rounds, 1 goal in 7 appearances, Africa Cup of Nations finals, 5 goals in 7 appearances, and finally World Cup finals, only 3 appearances. He has also provided 3 assists and received 1 yellow card in his international career up to this date. The most number of goals Ighalo scored in a single international match was actually in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification round match against Libya where he managed to score a hat-trick helping his team in a 4-0 win.

Ahmed Musa (16 Goals)

The second and the last active footballer on the list and also

Nigeria highest goal scorer in World Cup

as of this date (April 2022) with 4 goals, Ahmed Musa is a 29-year-old Nigerian forward and winger who’s been serving the Nigerian national team since 2010. Up to this date, he has scored a total of 16 goals in his 106 international appearance which actually gets him the lowest goal-to-appearance ratio on the list: 0.15 which means he has scored around one goal (exactly 1.05) in every seven appearances that he has made at international level. Despite this, he still holds the record for most goals scored at World Cup for the Nigerian national team (4), and for the reasons mentioned at the start of this post, he will probably hold it for the years to come.

But,

Musa

is the holder of two other World Cup records, too, we didn’t mention at the start of this post, of course at his own nation’s level: He’s the first Nigerian footballer ever to have scored twice in a World Cup match, or better said twice in two World Cup matches, namely in 2014 World Cup against Argentina and in 2018 World Cup against Iceland, and also the first Nigerian footballer ever to have scored in two editions of FIFA World Cup and actually two consecutive editions, if you like it. So, you surely know now in which World Cups Musa has taken part, but let’s see in which editions of Africa Cup of Nations he has also taken part. Well, that is 2013, 2019, and 2022 editions where in the 2013 edition Musa actually won the competition with the Nigerian national team with only one goal scored in it. In 2019 edition, he finished third with one goal scored, one assist provided, and having captained his team in five of the competition’s matches, and finally in 2022 edition, he actually achieved nothing as the Nigerian national team was eliminated in the competition’s round of 16 by Tunisia.

Other than the 2013 African Nations Cup Musa has won with the Nigerian national team, he has also won a WAFU Nations Cup - an African cup for the West Africa nations - with them in 2010 and an African Youth Championship with Nigeria U20 team in 2011. Finally, if you would like to know about how Musa has performed internationally concerning the appearances he has made and goals he has scored, and of course in which competitions, here is a brief stats of that: Friendlies, 3 goals in 30 appearances, World Cup qualification rounds, 2 goals in 19 appearances, African Nations Cup qualification rounds, 6 goals in 31 appearances, World Cup finals, 4 goals in 7 appearances, African Nations Cup finals, 1 goal in 14 appearances, and Confederations Cup, only 3 appearances.

Julius Aghahowa (14 Goals)

Mostly known for his acrobatic goal celebrations, Julius Aghahowa is a 40-year-old retired Nigerian forward who served the Nigerian national team sometime between 2000 and 2007 making 32 appearances and scoring 14 goals for them in the process. That actually gets him an international goal-to-appearance ratio of 0.43 - just the same as that of Odion Ighalo - and means that he scored 2.15 goals in every 5 of his international appearances, too.

Of course, some sources say that the real number of Aghahowa’s international goals and appearances is 13 and 28, respectively, which if we take as true, then here is the number of Aghahowa’s international goals and appearances by the competitions he took part in: Friendlies, 3 goals in 3 appearances, Africa Cup of Nations finals, 6 goals in 15 appearances, World Cup qualification rounds, 3 goals in 7 appearances, and World Cup finals, 1 goal in 3 appearances. He also received 5 yellow cards and a second yellow card leading to a red card during his international career. Maybe the most memorable goal Aghahowa ever scored during his career was the one he scored against Sweden in 2002 World Cup before which he performed six consecutive back-flips; what he was famous for during his career besides his pace. And Aghahowa took part in four editions of Africa Cup of Nations, namely the 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006 editions, finishing third in the 2004 editions and becoming the competition’s top scorer in 2002 edition with 3 goals alongside the Cameroonian footballers, Patrick M'Boma and Salomon Olembe.

Jay Jay Okocha (14 Goals)

The only midfielder and also the only footballer on the list of

Nigeria top scorers of all time

to have served the top Ligue 1 club, PSG, during his career - at least among the first 12 footballers on the list, Jay Jay Okocha is a 48-year-old retired Nigerian attacking midfielder who served the Nigerian national team sometime between 1993 and 2006 making 73 appearances and scoring 14 goals for them in the process. That actually gets him an international goal-to-appearance ratio of 0.19 meaning that he scored almost one goal (exactly 0.95) in every 5 appearances that he made for his country’s national team.

Considered as one of the greatest footballers Africa has ever produced and also being named on the FIFA 100 list by the Brazilian legend, Pele, as one of the greatest living footballers of 21st century, Jay Jay Okocha was an integral part of the Nigerian national team during the time he served them. He actually became a favorite of the Nigerian fans when he helped Nigeria in a crucial match against

Algeria

within 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification round which actually saw the team qualify for the global competition for the first time in their history. And that was a big achievement which was always associated with Okocha, though he only scored the equalizer goal - directly from a free kick; indeed, the goal which fueled his teammates to score 3 more goals and win the match 4-1.

Okocha was actually part of the Nigerian national team who won 1996 Olympic games football gold medal and were nicknamed the Dream Team by Nigerian press. Although Okocha’s top technique and dribbling abilities never helped Nigeria to advance beyond the round of 16 in 1994 and 1998 World Cups, such advancements could somehow be considered as an achievement for the team plus that Okocha continued to remain a fans’ favorite. This was actually shown clearly in 2000 Africa Cup of Nations where 60,000 attendance of Nigeria-Tunisia match showed their respect for the retired Nigerian midfielder by standing on their feet as he left the field having scored 3 goals for his side. For your information, Okocha took part in 1994, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006 editions of Africa Cup of Nations with the Nigerian national team winning the 1994 edition and finishing as runner-up in 2000 and on the third place in 2002, 2004, and 2006 editions - As you see, Nigeria got a place between the top four teams in any of the African cup editions mentioned above.

Daniel Amokachi (13 Goals)

Having played for almost all his career in European leagues, Daniel Amokachi is a 49-year-old retired Nigerian forward who is mostly known for playing for Everton, though he also served

Club Brugge

from the Belgian Pro League and Besiktas from the Turkish Super League during his career, too. Amokachi also served the Nigerian national team from 1990 to 1999 making 46 appearances and scoring 13 goals for them in the process which gets him a goal-to-appearance ratio of 0.28 meaning that he scored 1.12 goals in every 4 appearances for his country’s national team averagely. He’s actually the other footballer than Samson Siasia on the list to have managed the Nigerian national team, though only as an assistant and not as the head coach.

Amokachi took part in three editions of Africa Cup of Nations, namely the 1990, 1992, and 1994 editions, and two editions of FIFA World Cup, actually the 1994 and 1998 editions. He managed to win the 1994 edition of Africa Cup of Nations with the Nigerian national team and finish as runner-up in the 1990 edition as Nigeria lost 1-0 to Algeria in the same edition’s final. It might be interesting for you to know that despite these achievements, Amokachi never scored a goal in any of the African Nations Cup editions he took part in, however, although he made half appearances in World Cup as he did in Africa Cup of Nations - actually 5, he managed to score 2 goals in the global competition and both in a single edition to be actually the 1994 edition - one against Bulgaria and another against Greece both in the group stage. It should also be mentioned here that Amokachi won an Olympic gold medal in 1996 with the Nigerian national team, too, after actually beating the Argentinian Olympic team in the final.

Here is a brief stats of how the retired Nigerian forward performed in different international competitions concerning the appearances he made and the goals he scored in them: Friendlies, only 6 appearances, World Cup qualification rounds, 6 goals in 10 appearances, African Nations Cup qualification rounds, 3 goals in 10 appearances, World Cup finals, 2 goals in 5 appearances, Africa Cup of Nations finals, only 9 appearances, Confederations Cup, 2 goals in 3 appearances, and other tournaments, only 3 appearances. Although he never won the award, Amokachi was named the third African Footballer of the Year for three consecutive years of 1994, 1995, and 1996. He was also named the most successful foreign player in the Belgian Pro League in 1992.

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source: SportMob

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