— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) June 5, 2023
Fans around the world and Turkey in particular, are excited about this annual event. For this year, current Premier League Champions, Man City, will square off against the Italian giants, Inter Milan, in Saturday's cracking final.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) June 7, 2023
Although no Nigerian player will be involved in Saturday's final, still, the excitement around fans within the country remains the same.
While we anticipate the thrills, suspense and maybe the shock that the next Champions League final will offer us, let's delve into the thick of the action, and know the Nigerians that have won the prestigious European clubs' competition trophy.
How Many Nigerians have won the Champions League?
Not too many Nigerians have had the luxury of having won the UEFA Champions League. It'll interest you to know that just three (3) Nigerians have worn the competition's winners medal round their neck. They are Finidi George (current coach of NPFL side, Enyimba FC), Kanu Nwankwo, and John Obi Mikel.
Finidi George is one of Nigeria’s most successful footballers in history. Finidi played as a right winger during his active days and he attained stardom during his stint at Ajax in the Netherlands. He was born on April 15th, 1971. The Super Eagles Legend was a key figure in Ajax’s success in the early 1990s along with his compatriot, Kanu Nwankwo, winning the Champions League title with his team in the 1995 final bout with AC Milan at Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna.
It's Finidi George's birthday. Here's a cracker he scored for Ajax, courtesy of your good mates Marc Overmars and Jari Litmanen. pic.twitter.com/aKtwKhzwtR
— MUNDIAL (@MundialMag) April 15, 2020
George was in the starting lineup of that match and he played the entire 90 minutes. A Patrick Kluivert goal in the 85th minute was all Finidi and his teammates needed to defeat AC Milan. Interestingly, Kluivert was only 18 years and 327 days at that time; he became the youngest player to score in a UEFA Champions League final.
Aside from winning the champions league with Ajax, Finidi also won seven other major trophies with the Dutch giants. In remembrance of his contribution to Ajax's success in the 1990s, the club honoured him during his last birthday celebration.
Just like Finidi George, Kanu Nwankwo was part of the Ajax team that won the Champions League final against AC Milan at Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna, in 1995. Although Kanu did not start the final, he played a part in it. He replaced Clarence Seedorf in the 54th minute, and played his part in the win for Ajax.
Regarded as one of the best players in African football history, he was born on 1st August, 1976. At Ajax, Kanu not only won the UCL, he also won the UEFA Super Cup, and the UEFA Intercontinental Cup, all these triumphs came in 1995. He also won three consecutive Eredivisie titles between 1994 and 1996 before leaving Ajax in 1996.
John Obi Mikel
The Nigerian last winner of the UCL is no other than John Obi Mikel. He won the trophy with Chelsea in 2012, playing the entire duration of the match. After playing 1-1 for 120 minutes, Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on penalties, it ended in a 3-2 scoreline for the London side.
He was at the heart of the defensive midfield, steadying the ship for Roberto Di Matteo's side who suffered on the night at the hands of the Bavarians, but eventually triumphed.
This article was most recently revised and updated 4 months ago