During their active years as footballers, they earned large sums of foreign currency in various denominations that spanned several years from Europe to Asia.
They built and bought mansions home and abroad, flew in private jets, wore designer clothes and rode the best cars at the height of their careers. These footballers lavished huge sums of money on their girlfriends, pay bills and even catered for the needs of their families, friends and associates without blinking an eyelid.
However, few years after hanging up their boots, those Nigerian footballers who lived classy lives have gone totally bankrupt and could no longer afford to pay their bills.
You may ask what may have gone wrong with those heroes who wore the green and white jerseys of the Super Eagles for many years. Well, those footballers became broke due to some bad investments, gambling, messy divorces or other unnecessary spending. While some have luckily recovered from their debts, others still find themselves in the shackles of the monetary system. Most of them probably did not plan very well for life after retirement forgetting that a football career could end almost as soon it started.
Below is the list of nine Nigerian footballers who are now struggling to regain their footing after their investments went bankrupt.
This unarguably best-cultured Super Eagles left-back featured for Nigeria at the age category and Super Eagles winning the 1996 Olympics for the country.
Babayaro, played for some of the biggest clubs in England and Belgium.
At a time in his career, Babayaro, was amongst the highest paid African players in the world as he earned between £25,000 and $30,000 per week at Chelsea FC of England. He however declared himself bankrupt at a court in Croydon in 2010 after being charged by creditors. A final confirmation of his insolvency was made known in 2011.
The former Anderlecht and Newcastle Utd defender was reported to have lived an expensive lifestyle both in Nigeria and England. Stories abound on how he blew thousands of pounds in buying exotic items and he also partied hard with women. Babayaro’s financial troubles became apparent to his neighbours, with one saying that his usually beautifully kept house began to look a bit unkempt, with the garden overgrowing and the conservatory falling down.
Udeze is another explosive Super Eagles’ left-back who was a key member of the national team between 2000 and 2004 after graduating from the victorious Golden Eaglets. Sadly, fortune took a downward turn for the player as sources close to him revealed that Udeze is neck deep in debt after squandering the substantial fortune he gained during his playing days on high stake gambling and other luxuries.
Udeze who featured for AEK Athens, PAOK FC, and West Brom while active, is also said to have a particular preference for locally manufactured gin and he can also be seen indulging in street gambling with some undesirable elements around the neighbourhood he grew up in Ajegunle.
Taribo is perhaps the most successful Nigerian centre-back in history. At the height of his career, he was regarded as one of the best defenders in Europe and was a key member of the Inter Milan squad between 1997 and 1999. He was also part of the victorious Olympic gold winning dream team side in 1996.
When Taribo got to Auxerre in France, he was said to have told his coach to sack whoever is playing his position that he has arrived. It was that singular act of confidence that reportedly earned him the contract.
Despite featuring for top sides in Europe such as AC Milan, Derby County, Kaiserslautern, Partizan Belgrade and a brief spell in the Middle East with Qatari side, Al-Arabi Doha, Taribo is said to be in financial deep waters as the millions he made during his playing days seems to have been ‘washed away’. He also made a bad investment in his marriage but now can be seen in Lagos trying his hands in winning souls for God, a vocation he undertook towards the end of his career.
The only noticeable property left for Taribo is his huge mansion in Lagos.
Agali at a time formed a formidable striking partnership with Nwankwo Kanu which was fondly dubbed the ‘Twin Towers’. The tall and lanky forward was particularly loved by Super Eagles fans due to his proficiency in aerial duels. His tall physique and his imposing stature saw him lace his boots for top European sides such as Olympique Marseille, Hansa Rostock, Schalke 04, and Nice. However, sources close to the player revealed that the player is not doing too well financially. Apparently, despite earning an average pay of £25, 000 per month while in Germany, some failed investments and a clearly lavish lifestyle has seen him scrapping financially.
The 33-year-old would be remembered for being a key player at 2001 FIFA U-17 World Championship where he scored a hat-trick against Australia and won him the Silver Shoe as second highest goalscorer and also the Bronze Ball as third best player in the tournament, helping Nigeria to reach the final where they lost to France.
Opabunmi played for Nigeria and made his debut in 2002 against Kenya, scoring the second goal in a 3-0 win. He was a participant at the 2002 FIFA World Cup playing against England in the last group stage match becoming the 3rd youngest player to ever play in the World Cup finals after Norman Whiteside and Samuel Eto’o.
He played for a few clubs, including Shooting Stars FC, Grasshoppers Zürich (Switzerland) and Chamois Niortais in France.
He has since retired from the game after he lost one of his eyes playing football. At the moment, he is based in Ibadan where he relied on the meagre earning of his wife to sustain his family. Opabunmi, who survived his last months in Europe through the assistance of former teammate, Peter Osaze Odemwingie is said to be on a job search.
The former Super Eagles midfielder for six years had mental disorder after being defrauded heavily by a Lagos-based pastor and some fake oil businessmen.
Oruma, who captained Nigeria U-17 team to win the 1993 World Cup in Japan played for RC Lens, Sochaux Marseille and clubs in Switzerland and Kavala FC in Greece, made millions in the round leather game.
Though a gifted player, Oruma lived in the shadows of Austin Jay Jay Okocha in the Super Eagles and was sparingly used each time the latter is out injured or not eligible for matches.
He is presently said to have regained mental stability and has been offered a role by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) ahead of Russia 2018.
A fringe player for the Super Eagles who achieved little with the senior national team, he however made a career playing football and quite a profitable one. He was part of the national U-20 side that featured in the World Youth Championship in Nigeria in 1999. He also won four caps with the Super Eagles. He is famous for his marriage to Nollywood actress, Stephenie Okereke that was annulled by a Lagos court after it was discovered that he was legally married to another woman in the United States at the time he took Stephenie to the altar. However, despite featuring for clubs in Turkey, Libya, Australia and Saudi Arabia, Iloenyosi is not doing too well financially at present. Sources claim that the defender has delved into fashion designing with a keen interest in men’s clothing. He has also been seen several times giving morale supports to sports project initiated by billionaire club proprietor, Ifeanyi Ubah.
He was clearly one of the richest African players in his active days before he ran into trouble in Belgium. He was renowned to have driven two customised cars built to his taste. On visits to Nigeria, from his club in Europe, he retained a permanent suite at the Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja. But when he went bankrupt, one of his customised BMW cars was seized by the hotel as he was unable to pay bills. Later on, he was seen around national team camps moving from one room to the other after Super Eagles matches allegedly requesting for financial assistance from colleagues. He is gradually coming back to reckoning as he married an African diplomat who he has kept out of public glare. They live quietly in Surulere, Lagos.
The former Enyimba defender enjoyed a starting eleven position when late Stephen Keshi was the head coach of the Super Eagles and he blossom in the fullback position.
His last known club is Al Hilal of Sudan and this was since 2010, however the pacy defender suffered a serious injury in the 2010 African Nations Cup and he has been said to be rehabilitating since. There are unconfirmed reports that Yusuf is currently based in Kano and he is very broke as he has been abandoned by the authorities.
NPFL: Emeka turns midfield wizard for Kwara United
Godwin Emeka, a product of Kwara Football Academy (KFA) joined of Kwara United Football Club of Ilorin in 2016-football League season from ABS Ilorin FC.
The center midfielder failed to so many attitudes in his first season at the club, when the team was playing at the Nigeria National League (NNL).
Emeka’s best form however showed up in 2018 Nigeria Professional Football League season, having involved in almost all the goals the team scored in the league.
Though, the play maker absence in first three games for the Harmony Boys but he eventually made his way into the team in an home game against Lobi Stars of Makurdi, the game that earned the first victory for the team.
Emeka’s tremendous efforts paid against Katsina United when he registered his first goal of the season for Kwara United.
The former KFA play maker has served as the ‘quarterback’ for Coach John Obuh tutored side in 2018 NPFL season, serving as the all-important hub of the team.
Emeka is talented center midfielders that has first-rate foot skills to permit receiving, possessing and distributing the ball. He operate mainly in the busy middle of the field.
In every United match, the former ABS player successful radiate a certain confidence and calm with the ball at his feet, fending off challenges by the opposing team by rotating to shield the ball and giving himself time to think and survey the options.
The play maker always have 360-degree vision of the field and often comfortable serving as a link in a chain of passes that may go forward to strikers, laterally to wing midfielder or back to the defensive midfielder that normally resulted to goal.
Emeka has stepped on every blade of grass anytime is in action for the match, a statement indicating that he felt free to roam away from the middle of the pitch and a testament as well to his endurance.
As a center midfielder, he always stay close to the action, especially if the team strategy relies on possessing the ball, especially in the elite league like NPFL.
Emeka has in hands all the matches that the Kwara United won this season in the league, which means, he always has important role to play in every games of the harmony side.
His performance this season is not farfetched with the experienced he garnered when he was playing for ABS Ilorin FC.
The ability to run and put the ball in between his two legs really helped his game and also gave him better advantage above his companions.
Even though his team, Kwara United have not been doing well in the league, but the pkay has established himself for the world to see that is a great player.