Legendary Nigerian footballers are rarely called by their real names
A lot of Nigerian footballers recorded amazing feats on the pitch, and they got really popular nicknames which eventually defined them. Here’s the origin of some of those really popular nicknames.
1. Papilo- Nwankwo Kanu
Kanu is a Nigerian football legend. The ‘papilo’ nickname became really popular after he featured in a really popular Peak Milk advert. Kanu got the name because of his looks. Even when he was young, he looked like an old man. His friends started to call him Papilo because of his looks and wit on the field.
2. Jay Jay- Austin Okocha
You probably didn’t know Jay Jay is not Okocha’s real name. Okocha was known for his confidence, technique, creativity, and dribbling skills, as well as his use of feints, in particular, the step over. Due to his skill, he was described as being ‘so good that they named him twice. And thus, the name Jay Jay stuck.
3. Big Boss- Stephen Keshi
The late Stephen Keshi who coached Nigeria to victory at the Africa Cup of Nations was a Super Eagles player in his youth. He was named Big Boss by his teammates after his appointment as technical advisor to the team while he was still a player.
4. Dodo Mayana- Peter Rufai
Goalkeeper Peter Rufai was nicknamed Dodo Mayana in reference to the name of a popular dancer of Afro Beat King Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
5. 10-10- Bright Omokaro
He was nicknamed 10-10 by Ernest Okonkwo, during a match between Nigeria and Algeria in the semi-final of the 1988 African Cup. The Nigeria team had been reduced to 10 after a red card. When Bright entered the second half, he was instructed by his coach, Manfred Hoener, to tactically release a player from Morocco to restore the balance, as the opposing team had already exhausted its three substitutions. He did this beautifully, and the commentator said: ‘Omokaro has made it 10-10’.
6. Mathematical Odegbami- Segun Odegbami
His speed and fast calculated runs and dribbles from the right flank gave him the nickname –“Mathematical.”
7. Mountain of Gibraltar- Emmanuel Okala
Okala’s nickname “Mountain of GibaratRa” was coined due to his size and height. At 6.9 inches tall, he stood frightful to any approaching striker. When Okala stood in between the goal post, it was almost impossible to score a goal.
8. Thunder- Teslim Balogun
It is said that Balogun’s shot was like the strike of Thunder. And the story that his shot burst through a player’s belly and tore the goal net is the only way to describe how powerful his shots were.
9. Mikel- John Michael Obi
Mikel’s real names are John Michael Obi. He got the nickname Mikel due to a mistake from an NFF official while filling his travel documents and his international passport was registered with “Mikel” instead of Michael. He became popularly known as Mikel.
10. The Bull- Daniel Amokachi
Amokachi was nicknamed ‘the bull’ because of his speed, physical strength and technique during his playing days.
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