The former Nigeria international was a prolific winger during a very successful playing career, but one goal stands out special for its mark in history
Atlanta ’96 Olympic gold medalist Tijani Babangida has picked his only goal for Nigeria at the 1998 FIFA World Cup against Denmark in a 4-1 loss as the most memorable goal he ever scored.
Babangida made his international debut for Nigeria in 1994 but narrowly missed out on the triumphant Super Eagles party to that year’s AFCON in Tunisia as well as the country’s maiden campaign at the FIFA World Cup in the United States.
However, after playing an influential role to help Nigeria’s surge to glory at the Olympics two years later, the former Ajax winger was promoted to become an integral member of the senior national team.
The Super Eagles again made it to France ’98 and quickly qualified for the Round of 16 after defeating Spain and Bulgaria during the group stages.
But Denmark proved a hard nut to crack, with goals from Moller, Laudrup, Sand, and Helveg powering the Europeans to a 4-nil lead.
Babangida then scored Nigeria’s consolation goal in the second half, his first and only goal at the World Cup.
It was not a strike from distance or a solo effort after dribbling past bodies of defenders, but it still holds a special place for Babangida.
“We went to the World Cup, and at the World Cup, I scored a goal, but it was a very boring game because we were losing 4-0 before my goal,” Babangida told Vanguard.
“However, it remains my greatest goal because it put my name in the history books of the World Cup.
“I told you it was a boring game because we were losing. But for me, it is the best goal in my career because it puts me among World Cup goal scorers. It was historic. So, that goal is very important to me.
“I was happy, but I could not celebrate much because of how the game ended.”
Babangida scored five goals in 36 games for Nigeria and participated in two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.