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Ballon d’Or nominees who are from Nigeria

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Asisat Oshoala to battle 19 others for 2022 Ballon d'OrAward
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Asisat Oshoala may be the only Nigerian player in this year’s Ballon d’Or nominees list, but she is not the first to be nominated.

This year’s Ballon d’Or nominees have just one Nigerian player on the list, Asisat Oshoala. Oshoala is among the 19 players nominated in the Women’s category following an incredible year with Barcelona.

The 27-year-old finished the season as the joint top scorer in the Spanish Primera division with 19 goals, helping Barcelona retain their league title.

As a result of her excellent form, she was rewarded with a nomination for the Ballon d’Or. Oshoala is the first African female player to earn the nomination and the only Nigerian, male or female, nominated.

However, while Oshoala is the only Nigerian star to bag a nomination this year, she is not the first. Pulse Sports look at Nigerian players with a Ballon d’Or nomination.

In 1995, Finidi George was one of the three Super Eagles nominated for the Ballon d’Or, but the former Real Betis finished highest in the final rankings.

Finidi was part of the all-conquering Ajax squad that ruled Europe in 1995, and that helped him get a Ballon d’Or nomination the same year.

Finidi George was nominated for the Ballon d'Or in 1995

Finidi George was nominated for the Ballon d’Or in 1995

The ex-Nigerian international finished in the 21st spot in the final rankings with just six votes. Ironically, 1995 was also the year George Weah won it. Weah remains the only African to win the award to date.

The same year, one of Nigeria’s most talented players, Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, was also nominated for the Ballon d’Or, but he did not receive any vote.

Daniel Amkoachi also earned a nomination following his heroics for Everton.

Daniel Amokachi was also nominated for the Ballon d'or in 1995

Daniel Amokachi was also nominated for the Ballon d’or in 1995

The former Super Eagles assistant coach helped the Toffees to win the FA Cup that year, scoring a brace in the semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur.

Following Finidi, Okocha and Amokachi’s nominations, Nwankwo Kanu followed suit the following year. The former Arsenal star was also part of the Ajax squad that won the Champions League in 1995, but he only bagged a Ballon d’Or nomination a year later.

Kanu was fully in his bag in 1996, leading Nigeria to gold in the men’s football competition at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics.

He scored twice in the semi-final against a star-studded Brazil team. Kanu finished 14th in the final Ballon d’Or rankings that year, with 11 votes, the highest-ever position for a Nigerian player in Ballon d’Or history.

Super Eagles legend Nwankwo Kanu was nominated for the Ballon d'Or twice

Super Eagles legend Nwankwo Kanu was nominated for the Ballon d’Or twice

The same year, he also finished sixth in the FIFA World Player of the year rankings with 32 points. Meanwhile, three years later, in 1999, Kanu earned another Ballon d’Or nomination. Kanu left Ajax in 1996 to join Inter Milan, but he had a heart issue and a frustrating time at the club. Still, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger took a gamble on him in 1999, which eventually worked out.

Kanu was a hit that year, scoring a fantastic hat-trick against Chelsea in the Premier League. His performance that year earned him another Ballon d’Or position, although he finished 23rd with just two votes.

Unsurprisingly, Kanu won the CAF player of the year in 1996 and 1999.

Victor Ikpeba, aka the Prince of Monaco, is another Nigerian star with a Ballon d’Or nomination. The former Borussia Dortmund was nominated in 1997 following an excellent season with Monaco.

Victor Ikpeba earned a Ballon d'Or nominaton in 1997

Victor Ikpeba earned a Ballon d’Or nominaton in 1997

Ikpeba scored 13 league goals in the 1996/1997 Ligue 1 season and another seven in the UEFA Cup, now the Europa League. The ex-Super took it a level higher the next season, scoring 16 league goals and four in the Champions League.

However, Ikepba only finished 32nd in the Ballon d’Or rankings with two votes.

Former Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh also earned a Ballon d’Or nomination in 1998. The Nigerian international was rewarded for his performances for Ajax in the Eredivisie.

Sunday Oliseh powers home from range against Spain at the 1998 World Cup

Sunday Oliseh powers home from range against Spain at the 1998 World Cup

Oliseh helped Ajax win the Dutch title in the 1997/1998 season, while he also led Nigeria to the second round of the France 1998 World Cup.


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