Stephen Keshi: Nigeria's greatest ever?

So many players have donned the Green White Green jersey of Nigeria but who has shone the brightest from these array of talents?

Stephen Keshi: Nigeria's greatest ever?
Former Coach and Captain of Super Eagles, Late Stephen Keshi. I Source: herald.ng

From Teslim Balogun to young Kelechi Iheanacho, so many players have turned out for the Super Eagles or the Green Eagles like they used to be known back in the 80s.

So many analyst, pundits and even fans, old and young have rooted for players like Teslim 'thunder' Balogun, Mudashiru Lawal, Christian Chukwu, Segun 'the mathematical' Odegbami, Kanu Nwankwo, Austin 'jay jay' Okocha, Mikel Obi, Obafemi Martins, Joseph Yobo etc. these players have thrilled, mesmerized, wowed fans with breathtaking skills, craftiness and brilliance. Two players who rarely get any mention are the late Rashidi yekini and Stephen Keshi.

The Super Eagles pose for a picture in the '90s

Lets take a quick look at Stephen Keshi. He is a refrence and symbol when it comes to Nigerian football. He was the bridge between the past and modern national team. 'Big boss' as he was fondly called turned out for local teams such as ABC Lagos, New Nigeria Bank before moving to stade de' Abidjan in Ivory Coast. He made his foray into European football with Lokeren and later Andeletch of Belgium- at this stage he had already established himself as a truly talented defender.

He went on to represent other club sides before hanging his boot in 1998. He paved the way for other africans to ply their trade in Europe as well as earning good pay. Back home he skippered the Super Eagles to win the 1994 african cup of nation as well as coaching the team in 2013 to win the same tournament, in the process becoming only the second man to win the competition as a player and coach. Other mentions include qualifing Togo for the AFCON and the FIFA world cup in 2006, leading Mali to the 2010 AFCON. He may have left a big hole in our football but his status as the best captain in Nigeria football may never be rivaled. 

The late Stephen Keshi celebrating with the '94 AFCON title
Late Stephen Keshi with other greats J.J Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Ike Shorunmu as they celebrate 2013 AFCON triumph

Talking about goal scorers in the colours of Nigeria, one could mention a few names. The likes of Segun Odegbami, Kanu Nwankwo, Obafemi martins, Julius Aghahowa, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Ikechukwu Uche etc have scored goals aplenty but non have been as lethal as Rashidi Yekini. He remains the most prolific marksman in the history of the national team with thirty-seven goals in just fifty-eight apperances.

He was also prolific at club level, scoring forty-five league goals in fifty-three apperances for Shooting Stars of Ibadan before representing African Sports in Ivory Coast. He was at his prolific best with Vitoria Setubal, hitting the back of the net ninety times in one hundred and fourteen apperances and also bagging the top scorer award in the portugese league. He represented Nigeria at five major tournaments which included two World Cups where he scored the country's first-ever senior World Cup goal.

He won the 1994 AFCON, was the top scorer with five goals and won the 1993 African footballer of the year award. Who could forget that famous goal celebration against Bulgaria at the 1994 World Cup in USA? He may no longer be with us but his legacy lives on in Nigerian football.

The late Rashidi Yekini

They may not have represented the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Ajax, Juventus etc but when it come to the colours of the national team, Stephen Keshi and Rashidi Yekini both share the gong as the greatest the Nation has ever seen.