Trabzonspor’s forward Anthony Nwakaeme has been one of Nigeria’s finest players in Europe this season, scoring ten goals and providing six assists in 24 league appearances.
Yet the 30-year-old was not included in coach Gernot Rohr’s 24-man squad for Sierra Leone and has not played for Nigeria since making his debut in 2017.
Several other Super Eagles stars have been seemingly forgotten by their dearly beloved country but are still surprisingly getting the job done at club level.
Soccernet Nigeria looks at five Nigerian footballers who were crucial for the national team sometimes in the past but have been sidelined in recent times.
1. Godfrey Oboabona
Oboabona was one of the few fortunate ones who earned an international debut for Nigeria while still playing in the local league for Sunshine Stars at a relatively young age of 22.
The following year, the tough-tackling defender had smoothened a few rough edges off his game, enough to be the backbone of the Super Eagles’ 2013 AFCON triumph.
Further appearances at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup seemed to have sealed his spot in the team for many years to come.
But Oboabona has not played for Nigeria since 2016. Now 29, the former Rizespor centre-back only secured a move to Georgian club FC Dinamo Batumi a few weeks ago and would jump at the chance to wear the green and white one more time.
2. Brown Ideye
Ideye’s first tournament for the Super Eagles was at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, but his glorious moment in green and white came at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
Good in the air and astute with the ball at feet, the young striker played in most of Nigeria’s games at the tournament, including the 1–0 win over Burkina Faso in the final.
Not long after, West Bromwich Albion coughed out 10 million euros to take Ideye to England. His Premier League spell, though, was short-lived, and he soon found his way to Olympiakos in Greece.
Currently shooting at opposition’s goal for Aris Football Club in Greece, Ideye has found it increasingly difficult to earn chances in the national team. The 31-year-old’s last appearance for the three-time African champions came in a 2-1 away defeat of Zambia in a World Cup qualifying match back in 2016.
3. Greg Etafia
Highlands Park goalie, Greg Etafia, appears to have been around since forever, and he has to be considered a living legend of the South African Premier Soccer League.
The Auchi-born goaltender was unlucky to be at his peak just about the time when Vincent Enyeama was building his legacy as one of Africa’s safest ever pair of hands.
As a result, Etafia has only handled the posts three times for the Super Eagles. But at 37, he is still trusted to do an excellent goalkeeping job in South Africa where a top division club offered him a new contract last year.
4. Taye Taiwo
For the best part of a decade, Taye Taiwo was Nigeria’s first choice left full-back and one of Nigeria’s most recognizable defenders in Europe.
Taiwo was blessed with an imposing physical figure, pace to match, and a sweet left foot that held a punch, and seemed destined for the top even from the onset.
He fulfilled much of his earlier promise by playing for some of Europe’s notable sides, including Marseille, Dynamo Kyiv, and of course, AC Milan.
He is still active in Finland defending the honours of RoPS Rovaniemi, but he earned the last of his 53 caps for the Super Eagles about a decade ago.
5. Bartholomew Ogbeche
Ogbeche was just 17 when he was picked to represent Nigeria at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The then Paris St. Germaine wonder kid even featured in two group stage matches before the Super Eagles crashed out of that tournament at the first hurdle.
He could never build on that outing, though, and has not been invited to the national fold since 2004.
His club career, however, has made him a journeyman of sorts with Ogbeche having played in France, Spain, Greece, Holland, and England.
Now 35, the Ogoja-born striker is still smashing in goals in the India Super League, where he has netted 15 times in his last 16 league games.
But he’s as far from a Super Eagles recall as the skies to the deep.