If there is one thing Nigerians love, it is football. Like the Indians are mad about cricket, Nigerians are mad about football. Many Nigerians follow the best leagues in Europe such as the Premier League in England, La Liga in Spain, or the Serie A in Italy because there are some great Nigerians playing in these leagues. However, they are also passionate about local football and follow the Nigerian Premier League, supporting the team that is closest to where they grew up. Below we’ll take a closer look at this league as well as some of the best footballers to come out of Nigeria.
They Like Something Else Just as Much as Football
Before we go onto speak about the Nigerian Premier League, we thought that we would take the time to speak about Nigerians and gambling. When it comes to football, Nigerians love gambling on it just as much as they like watching it. It is estimated that 60 million Nigerians, aged 18-40, spend around $10 a day betting on sport. Now, this might not seem like a lot for one person to be betting on sport, but when you add it up throughout the year, each one of those 60 million Nigerians is spending a hefty sum of cash. If you happen to be a Nigerian that loves to bet, then you should head on over to https://www.sport-betting.ng/ as here you can find all of the best sports betting sites for Nigerians as well as a lot of other valuable sports betting information. If you sign up with one of their recommended bookies, you will be doing yourself a big favor.
The Nigerian Premier League
The Nigerian Professional Football Leagues, also known as the NPFL, is the elite football league in Nigeria. It was formed way back in 1972 and involves 20 of the best football teams in the country. Each team plays everyone twice, home and away, and the team with the most points, after everyone has played everyone twice, will be crowned Champions of Nigeria. The four teams that finish bottom of the table are relegated. In the 2018/19 season, 24 teams competed in the NPFL as the previous season was cancelled because of administrative issues.
The Most Successful Team
Over the years, there have been 19 different champions, but Enyimba have won the title 8 times, with the most recent one coming in 2019. Rangers International are only 1 behind on 7, while Shooting Stars and Heartland F.C. have won the title 5 times each. However, the last time the former won it was in 1998, while the latter has not won it since 1993. Dolphin have won it 3 times, while Bendel Insurance and Julius Berger have picked up the trophy 2 times. All the other 11 teams have won the title just the once.
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Best Nigerian Players
Below we are going to take a look at three of the best footballers to have come out of Nigeria.
He is Nigeria’s most decorated player, and he has played with some of the best clubs in Europe. In his early footballing career, he won the Eredivisie three times and the Champions League with Ajax, before he joined Inter and won the Europa League with them. He eventually moved to Arsenal, where he won the Premier League and the FA Cup. After his time at Arsenal, he moved to Portsmouth where he helped them to win the 2007 FA Cup. He represented Nigeria 87 times and helped them to win a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics.
Jay Jay Okocha
When it comes to dribbling, there has not been anyone else to come out of Nigeria that has been as good as Okocha. He has the amazing ability to lure a defender in, before beating them with a neat trick or a feint. He is considered by many to be one of the best footballers to come from Africa. He started his football career with Enugu Rangers, before he moved to Eintracht Frankfurt where he is remembered for dribbling past the whole Karlsruher SC defense before dribbling past Olivier Khan, one of Germany’s greatest keepers, and slotting into the net. He then moved to Turkey and has a spell with Fenerbache, before he was bought by PSG for £14 million, which was a record for an African player in 1998. He then moved to England, where he played for Bolton and become a fan favorite. He played for his country 73 times, scoring 14 goals. Now, while he did not win much during his career, there is no doubting his talent.
When it comes to goal scorers, Rashidi Yekeni is the most prolific to come out of Nigeria. He started his career in Nigeria where he played for Shooting Stars, UNTL Kaunam, and Abilola Babes. Later on, he more to Vitoria Setubal in Portugal, where he showcased his scoring abilities – in one season he scored 34 goals in 32 games. In 114 appearances for the club, he netted 91 times. During his club career he played 253 games and scored 164 goals. He played for his country 58 times and scored 37 goals.