Just a little over 20 years ago, not many Nigerian parents would have let their children play football professionally. This was because not many Nigerians earned a decent living from professional football. Well, the case is very different now with Nigerian professional footballers earning much more than Nigerian entertainers.
Facts have it that the richest set of Nigerians under 30 are not entertainers but professional footballers. The huge amounts that are earned by these footballers may make it look like football is a bed of roses. It however should be noted that the world of football is a world where only the fittest survive.
This article contains a list of the 10 highest paid Nigerian footballers of all time. The list begins with Changchun Yatai striker Odion Ighalo and ends with Arsenal F.C player, Alex Iwobi.
Highest Paid Nigerian Footballers
Odion Ighalo- Changchun Yatai- €12.1 million
Odion Jude Ighalo began playing professional football in Nigeria. While in Nigeria, he played for Prime and Julius Berger. The former Watford of England star wears the number 9 jersey and currently plays in the Chinese super league. He plays for Changchun Yatai which he joined on the 31st of January for a fee of 20 million and earns an annual salary of €12.1 million.
With an annual salary of €12.1 million and weekly wages of €200,000, Odion Ighalo is the highest paid professional footballer in Nigeria. He earns over €3 million more than the next highest paid Nigerian footballer.
Obafemi Martins-Shanghai Shenhua- €8.4 million
Obafemi Akinwunmi Martins popularly known as “Obagoal” is a Nigerian professional footballer and plays for Shanghai Greenland Shenhua. The former super eagles’ striker is known for his pace and left Nigeria for Europe at the age of 16. He currently plays for Shanghai Shenhua in the Chinese super-league.
Obafemi Martins signed for Shanghai Shenhua on the 18th of February, 2016. With his current contract with the club, the 33 year old player earns an annual salary of €8.4 million. This puts him at par with current super eagles captain Mikel Obi.
John Mikel Obi-Tianjin Teda- €8.4 million
John Mikel Obi is perhaps Nigeria’s most decorated as well Nigeria’s most successful professional football player in recent years. The super eagles’ captain has had a long and successful career that spans over 10 years. A major part of his career was spent at Chelsea which he joined from Lyn Oslo in 2006 for a transfer fee of €16 million.
The former Chelsea FC holding midfielder and super eagles’ captain joined Chinese super cup side Tianjin Teda in January, 2017 and currently earns an annual salary of €8.4 million.
Anthony Ujah-Liaoning Whowim- €5.6 million
Anthony Ujah is the least popular player on this list. Although his is a member of the current super Eagles squad, not much of him has been seen. The fact that Anthony Ujah does not seem to be one of Nigeria’s most successful professional footballers in recent times didn’t stop him from making this list. He doesn’t just make the list of the 10 highest paid Nigerian footballers, he also comes fourth on this list.
Anthony Ujah currently plays for Chinese Super League side, Liaoning Whowim which he joined from Werder Bremen in 2016. He earns an annual salary of €5.6 million.
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Ahmed Musa-Leicester City- €4.2 million
Extremely pacy Nigerian forward, Ahmed Musa is the highest paid Nigerian football player in the English premiership. Ahmed Musa holds the record of being the first Nigerian to score more than once in one FIFA world cup match. He achieved this feat against Argentina in 2014.
He currently plays for Leicester City. He joined the English premier league side in July, 2016 for a record fee of €16.6 million. Musa became the fifth highest paid Nigerian professional footballer and the highest paid Nigerian professional footballer in England since he joined Leicester City. Musa earns an annual salary of €4.2 million.
Kelechi Iheanacho- Leicester City- €3.64 million
Kelechi Iheanacho came into limelight after performing very well for the Nigerian under-17 side that won the world cup in Dubai in 2013. Since then, he has become a household name of some sort.
Nigerian super talented left-footed Kelechi Iheanacho is not just one of the youngest successful professional footballers from Nigeria, he is also one of the highest paid Nigerian football players.
Kelechi joined his present team, Leicester city from Manchester City FC after falling out of favour with current Manchester city Manager Pep Guardiola last season.
With a weekly wage of €70,000, Kelechi is one of Nigeria’s highest paid footballers in the Premiership.
Victor Moses, Chelsea- €5.72 million
Since the arrival of current Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, Nigerian football star Victor Moses has become a regular at Chelsea football club. The Nigerian international plays as a wing back for Chelsea. Although this position is different from the position he plays in Nigeria, he has not failed to impress in the both teams.
The current form and relevance of Victor Moses has only not helped his club become a better side, it has also translated to an increased weekly wage. The Super Eagles striker currently ears a salary of €110,000 per week.
Emmanuel Emenike- Fenerbahce- €2.5 million
Emmanuel Emenike is popular to Nigerian football fans for the role that he played in the Super Eagles successful outing at the 2013 CAF nations cup. He is known for his energy and power play, attributes that have contributed greatly to his career and the success of the Nigerian National team.
Although not much of Emmanuel Emenike has been seen in recent times, he remains one of Nigeria’s highest earning professional footballers. His annual salary of €2.5 million makes him one of the highest paid Nigerian football players.
Vincent Enyeama-Lille-1.8 million
Nigeria’s most capped player, Vincent Enyeama is the only goal keeper on this list. The Nigerian shot stopper made his debut to the Nigerian National team in 2002 and has over 100 caps for the Nigerian National team. He went on to become a cover for the then first choice goal keeper, Ike Shoromu at the world cup.
Vincent Enyeama currently plays for French Ligue 1 side, Lille and is a first choice goal keeper. The Nigerian goalie earns an annual salary of €1.8 million. This makes him the 9th highest paid Nigerian professional footballer as well as Nigeria’s highest paid goal keeper.
Alex Iwobi-Arsenal Football Club- €1.8 million
Alex Iwobi is an Arsenal FC forward and nephew of Nigerian football legend, Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha. The 21 year old is currently one of Nigeria’s most successful youngsters. Although not as popular as his compatriot Kelechi Iheanacho, he is perhaps of Equal value to the Nigerian National team.
The Nigeria forward earns an annual salary of €1.8 million pounds and is best known for his lone goal against Zambia in the Russia 2018 world cup qualifiers.
Although Nigerian professional footballers in the Chinese super league are not the most popular, they get the highest pay. The choice to play in the Chinese super league might not be good for a footballer’s public image, it is definitely very beneficial to the footballers bank account balance.
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