The last Super Eagles to win CAF Player of the Year

The last Super Eagles to win CAF Player of the Year
Credit: Icon Sport

Super Eagles player Victor Osimhen has made the shortlist of the final three nominees for the CAF Footballer of the Year award which will be decided on 11 December 2023.

Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah, and Morocco defender Achraf Hakimi are the other two players who will contend with Osimhen for the top African award.

Since 1999 when Nwankwo Kanu emerged as winner of the award, no other Nigerian has won the most prestigious individual prize.

John Mikel Obi and Vincent Enyeama were the closest Super Eagles players since then after they both finished second and third, respectively, in 2013 and 2014.

The award recognises the most standout African players for club and country over the past year. The ceremony for the current year in review will be held in Morocco next Monday.

Osimhen made history as the first African to be crowned top scorer in Serie A last season. The Napoli man is also the first player from Africa to win the Scudetto and top scorer award in the same season, after scoring 26 Serie A goals for the Partenopei last campaign.

The 24-year-old also finished 8th in the Ballon d'Or ceremony that was held last month and also recently won the Serie A Best Player award, to put himself as favourite to land the African Player of the Year gong.

The Lagos-born footballer looks set to join a list of four legendary Eagles who have won the most important individual award in the continent.

Super Eagles to have won CAF Player of the Year prize

Rashidi Yekini – 1993

Rashidi Yekini in action for Nigeria
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The late Super Eagles striker was the first Nigerian player to win the coveted African Player of the Year award after his explosive goalscoring form for club and country in 1993.

The ‘Goals father,’ as he was popularly known amongst Nigerian football fans, scored a career-best 34 goals for Portuguese side, Vitória de Setúbal in the 1992/93 season, which helped the club to secure promotion to the elite division.

Yekini also scored crucial goals for Nigeria during the World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers, making him the favourite to win the CAF award.

Emmanuel Amuneke – 1994

Emmanuel Amuneke with U-17 World Cup trophy
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Amuneke became just the second Super Eagles player to win the African Footballer of the Year title following his blistering performances for Sporting CP in Portugal, and Zamalek in Egypt, as well as his exploits in Nigeria’s triumph at the 1994 African Cup of Nations in Tunisia.

Amuneke also displayed good performances in Nigeria’s debut FIFA World Cup campaign that was held in the US in 1994.

Nwankwo Kanu – 1996 and 1999

Fondly called ‘Papilo' by Nigerian football fans, Kanu became the only Eagles player to win the CAF African Player of the Year award twice, first in 1996, and later in 1999.

Former Super Eagles player, Nwankwo Kanu
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Kanu played a prominent role in Ajax’s 1995 UEFA Champions League triumph, but later moved to Inter Milan in 1996.

It was his exploits at leading Nigeria to the football gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta that really helped him to the CAF top award in 1996, not forgetting his memorable brace against Brazil in the semi-final comeback win.

After surviving a career-threatening heart defect, Kanu moved to Arsenal in February 1999, where he revived his football career.

His exploits for the Gunners was largely responsible for his second CAF award, with his 17-minute hat-trick in the 3-2 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge being the biggest highlight of his season.

He was also outstanding for the Eagles all through the qualifiers of the 2000 African Cup of Nations. Kanu is still regarded as the best Nigerian export by many.

Victor Ikpeba – 1997

Victor Ikpeba in action for Monaco in 1997
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Otherwise known as ‘The Prince of Monaco', Ikpeba emerged Africa’s best player in 1997 following a brilliant year for club and country.

The former Eagles striker took Ligue 1 by storm, scoring 13 goals to help Monaco win the league title in the 1996/97 season.

Ikpeba also emerged as the second-highest goal-scorer with seven goals behind Maurizio Ganz, who netted eight goals in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup for Monaco.

He also featured prominently in Nigeria’s qualification campaign ahead of the 1998 World Cup.

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 months ago

Joseph is a graduate engineer turned sports writer, he has covered lots of sports stories, match previews and predictions across various leagues on the planet.