PROFILE: Meet The Five Longest Serving Nigerian Players

A few weeks ago, Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama marked a decade of service to the Super Eagles. It was a milestone for the Lille goalkeeper who came into the core of the team during the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan.

Several players have given long service to the nation in the past – Kanu Nwankwo spent 16 years in the national team while present coach Stephen Keshi gave 12 years of his life to the service of the national team. Many times during low periods, these players have had to question why they give so much yet receive so little praise.

This goal.com article profiles the longest serving players in the present Eagles squad looking at how their career has been shaped by service to their country.

5. TAYE TAIWO

Position: Left back
Years active: 8
Duration: 2004-to present
No of caps: 53
Goals: 5

Festac-born Taye Taiwo has been a consistent part of the Super Eagles since he made his debut in 2004. He replaced Ifeanyi Udeze and since then he has made remarkable impact for the team as a left full back. He is known for his bullet shots and thunder free kicks. He has played under a myriad of coaches though he has featured only once under current coach Stephen Keshi.

He made a move from Lobi Stars directly to Olympique Marseille. He left the French side after six seasons where he won the Ligue 1 title, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophee des Champions. He moved to join AC Milan but he had to be loaned to Queen Park Rangers. The left-back has played 53 times for his country and scored five times. At 27 years of age, he is getting very stiff competition from home-based lad Juwon Oshinawa and Elderson Echiejile is also in the pecking order.

 

4. JOHN UTAKA

Position: Forward
Years active: 10
Duration: 2002-to present
No of caps: 43
Goals: 6

Forward John Utaka returned to the fold of the Super Eagles in June after being locked out since the end of the 2010 World Cup. The Montpellier striker’s national team career was resurrected due to the impressive performances he gave leading to his team winning the French Ligue 1 title.

Stephen Keshi fielded him for the Eagles’ matches against Namibia and Malawi, giving him an opportunity to also mark a decade in the service of his country. Utaka made his debut in 2002 and has played at three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. One of his most memorable moments was when he scored the winning goal in the 2-1 defeat of Cameroon in the quarter final of Tunisia 2004.

 

 

 

 

 

3. OSAZE PETER ODEMWINGIE

Position: Forward
Years active: 10
Duration: 2002-to present
No of caps: 54
Goals: 9

One of the youngest players to have played for the national team, Peter Odemwingie was born in Uzbekistan but chose to play for Nigeria. He was taken to the 2002 World Cup as an alternate player. From then till date, the pacy striker has won 54 caps and scored nine goals for the Super Eagles.

His competitive debut came as a substitute in a 3-0 victory over Kenya on May 4, 2002 aged just 20. At the African Cup of Nations in Tunisia in 2004, he scored twice against South Africa, in the 80th and 82nd minutes, after coming on as a substitute in the Super Eagles first match of the competition. He has played in a total of four Afcons and at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Odemwingie has had spats with some national team coaches like Amodu Shaibu, Lars Lagerback and Samson Siasia. He has had stints with Bendel Insurance, La Louviere in Belgium, Lille in France – for whom he played in the Uefa Champions League and scored against AC Milan, Lokomotiv Moscow and he is currently contracted to West Bromwich Albion, where he has been highest goal scorer in the last two seasons.

 

 

 

 

2. VINCENT ENYEAMA

Position: Goalkeeper
Years active: 10
Duration: 2002-to present
No of caps: 65
Goals: 1

The Lille of France goalkeeper is the second longest serving Super Eagles player currently. He marked a decade in the national team ahead of the World Cup qualification match against Malawi in June.

He was picked for the 2002 World Cup by Adegboye Onigbinde as a cover for Ike Shorunmu and played one match in that tournament, keeping a clean sheet against England. That match will be remembered fondly for his save from a David Beckham free kick. He has been first choice for the national team since except on rare occasions where he was injured or when he was excluded from the team on disciplinary grounds.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa will also be fondly remembered for the way he single-handedly made sure that Argentina’s Lionel Messi did not score against the Super Eagles. He helped Nigeria win the CafChampions League for the first time with Enyimba FC of Aba in 2003 and 2004. At 29 years of age, and as a goalkeeper, Enyeama could be in the national team for many more years.

He had a very good stint in Israel with Hapoel Tel Aviv, where he won many accolades and became known as a scoring goalkeeper in Europe. He also paved the way for compatriot, Dele Aiyenugba to get his chance as a professional goalkeeper in Israel.

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama marked a decade of service to the Super Eagles. It was a milestone for the Lille goalkeeper who came into the core of the team during the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan.

Several players have given long service to the nation in the past – Kanu Nwankwo spent 16 years in the national team while present coach Stephen Keshi gave 12 years of his life to the service of the national team. Many times during low periods, these players have had to question why they give so much yet receive so little praise.

This article curled from goal.com profiles the longest serving players in the present squad looking at how their career has been shaped by service to their country.

 

1. JOSEPH YOBO (Super Eagles Captain)

Position: Central defender
Years active: 11
Duration: 2001-to present
No of caps: 87
Goals: 7

A former U-20 striker, captain Joseph Yobo is currently the longest serving Super Eagle and has made history as the player with the most number of appearances for the national team, 87. The player who started his career with Michelin FC of Port Harcourt has indeed come a long way since he stood up against George Weah of Liberia in a 2002 World Cup qualifier in Port Harcourt playing as a right back.

He made his World Cup debut in 2002 in Japan and South Korea and famously provided the cross for Julius Aghahowa to score against Sweden, Nigeria’s lone goal in that tournament. He has played in countries across Europe, from Belgium – where he starred for Standard Liege- to Marseille in France and then to Everton of England where he played for eight years before his current loan move to Fenerbahce of Turkey. He won his first club diadem with Fenerbahce and he is now hoping to make the loan move a permanent one.

At 31 years-old, he could get to the magical century of international caps if he can motivate the team to qualify for the 2013 and 2014 Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup in Brazil. Having won three Afcon bronze medals, Yobo has declared that he wants to win a major trophy with Nigeria before he considers retiring.

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