Nigerian Football is organized and governed by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), formerly known as the Nigerian Football Association. With football being the most popular sport in the country, Nigeria has produced the highest ever ranked national team from Africa and has many notable footballers playing all across the continent.
The NFF is responsible for the National Senior Team (Super Eagles), the national women’s football team (Super Falcons), under 23 men’s football team (Dream team), under 20 men’s national team (Flying Eagles) and the under-17 football team (Golden Eaglets). The NFF also organizes five different competitions: Nigerian Professional Football League, Nigeria National League, the Amateur League, Federation Cup and the Women’s League.
The history of Nigeria football dates back to the early part of the twentieth century when it was first introduced by Baron Mulford, a Briton who organized weekly matches between European and Nigerian youths in Lagos. However, the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) was established in 1945 with the Governor’s Cup or what later became known as the FA cup as the major national competition.
In 1959, the NFA became affiliated to the continental (CAF) and international body (FIFA). After Nigeria’s independence, the administration of Nigeria football fell on the shoulders of Nigerians, with Mr. Godfrey Amachree becoming the first Nigerian Chairman of the association. Nigeria has since then sustained national interest in football and has had a very thrilling football history rising to fame and glory.
Nigeria was placed 5th in the FIFA ranking in 1994. The best any African country has attained. No other country has come close except for Cote d’Ivoire within the top ten ranking.
Nigeria under 16 national team nicknamed Golden Eaglets, is the first team to have won the FIFA/ Kodak World Under 16 world cup in 1985. Nigeria has since won the tournament 2 other times – 1993 and 2007.
Nigeria Under 23 national team, nicknamed Dream Team, is the first African team to have won Gold medal in the Olympics men soccer event in Atlanta 1996. Nigeria has also won the silver Medal in 2008.
Nigeria women national team nicknamed Super Falcons is the first team to have won the African women championship in 1991. The team has since then dominated the championship and has won it a record 8 times – 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010. They are also the first African team to participate in the FIFA women world cup in 1991. Nigeria has since then participated in 5 other editions.
Nigeria’s Mercy Akide is the first player that was awarded Africa women footballer of the year in 2001. Nigeria players has since then won the award 7 other times. Perpetual Nkwocha 4 times and Cynthia Uwak who won it in 2006 and 2007.
Nigeria’s most famous and decorated club side, Enyimba FC, is the first team to have won CAF champions league back to back in 2003 and 2004. Shooting stars, Heartland and Enugu Rangers have been runners up in previous editions.
The Nigeria national team, nicknamed Green Eagles, and later Super Eagles, has won the Africa cup of nations 3 times – in 1980, 1994 and 2012
Nigeria’s former skipper, Nwankwo Kanu, is the most decorated player in the history of African football. He has won the Eredivise, the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup, UEFA Cup, the English Premier League, FA Cup, Community Shield, an Olympic Gold Medal and the African Footballer of the Year Award, some of which he won on multiple occasions.
Nigeria is the first country to have players win the Africa footballer of the year award 6 times:
Rashidi Yekini 2 times 1990 and 1993; Emmanuel Amunike 1 time 1994; Nwankwo Kanu 2 times 1996 and 1999; and Victor Ikpeba 1 time 1997.