The Ballon d’Or is an annual award given to the best men’s and women’s football player in the world. It is considered to be the most prestigious individual award in football.
Only a few Nigerian players have been nominated for the Ballon d’Or since its inception in 1956.
Finidi George, Daniel Amokachi, and Austin Jay-Jay Okocha were the first Nigerian players to be nominated for the awards in 1995.
Nwankwo Kanu was nominated twice, in 1996 and 1999, when he was playing for Arsenal and Inter Milan respectively.
Victor Ikpeba was nominated in 1997, when he was playing for Monaco. Sunday Oliseh was nominated in 1998, when he was playing for Juventus.
The Nigerian players who have been nominated for the Ballon d’Or are considered to be some of the best footballers to have ever come out of Africa.
They have all played at the highest level and have won numerous trophies. They are an inspiration to young footballers all over Africa.
In 2023, Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala made history by becoming the first Nigerian players to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or in the same year.
Osimhen was nominated for his impressive performances for Napoli, where he scored 26 goals in Serie A, while Oshoala was nominated for her performances for Barcelona, where she won the Women’s Champions League and the Spanish league.
The nominations of Osimhen and Oshoala are a testament to the rising standard of football in Nigeria. They are also a sign that African players are now being recognized for their talent on the world stage.
Full list of Nigerian players who have been nominated for the Ballon d’Or:
As of September 2023, there are 8 Nigerian football players who have been nominated for the Ballon d’Or. They are:
- Finidi George (1995)
- Daniel Amokachi (1995)
- Austin Jay-Jay Okocha (1995)
- Nwankwo Kanu (1996, 1999)
- Victor Ikpeba (1997)
- Sunday Oliseh (1998)
- Asisat Oshoala (2022, 2023)
- Victor Osimhen (2023)