Nigeria is a country divided by ethnic lines, but those differences are put aside when the national team is in action.
Football is a unifying factor in the country, and it is evident whenever the Super Eagles are playing as all kinds of differences are put aside.
National team matches, especially in a competition like the World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations, commands the whole nation’s attention.
The streets are silent like the graveyard, roads are free of traffic whenever the Super Eagles are playing a World Cup game or an Afcon match.
Aside from football, music is another unifying factor for Nigerians. Nigeria’s music has grown in leaps and bounds over the last 20 years.
Nigerian music has brought international recognition to the country, and it is also one of the few shining lights in a country known for getting in the news for the wrong reasons.
Artists like Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy have the biggest fanbase in Africa and one of the world’s biggest. Nigerian musicians have won numerous international awards and are the pacesetter for all other African artists.
While tastes in music and even choice of football clubs may differ, which could sometimes lead to heated arguments, music and football are still what unifies the citizens.
So given there’s a correlation between music and football, Soccernet.ng decides to compare some of Nigeria’s top footballers with their musician counterparts.
NB: The list includes players and musicians from both the past and present, while females are also included.
Odion Ighalo As Duncan Mighty
Ighalo is from the south-south region, just like Duncan Mighty. But that’s not the only reason why he is compared to the Port-Harcourt based musician.
Ighalo came into the international setup at a relatively old age for a footballer. His first appearance at a major tournament for the Super Eagles was at the age of 28, which was the 2018 World Cup.
He followed it up with another appearance at 2019 Afcon, finishing as the top scorer with five goals. Following that tournament, he called time on his international career.
In the end, Ighalo scored 16 times in just 35 games for the Super Eagles. He never really had many top moments with the team and could not be considered as a great.
However, he was respected enough while his move to Manchester United brought him worldwide fame. He is now in Saudi Arabia, hoping to earn more big bucks before he retires.
The same can also be said about Duncan Mighty, who is well respected but not seen as a great in the Nigerian music space.
But he did make a comeback with two hit singles that featured Wiz Kid and Davido, respectively, which brought him back to the spotlight.
Stephen Keshi as Fela
There’s no one more fitting to earn the Fela role than the late Stephen Keshi. As a player, he won 64 caps for Nigeria, captaining the team to victory at the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations.
Keshi also represented Nigeria at the 1994 nations cup. After retiring from football, Keshi went into management, and he became the first local coach to win the Nations Cup with Nigeria- leading the team to success in 2013.
Keshi was a ‘no-nonsense’ man and not shy to speak his mind, especially against football administrators. Fela, as a musician, also used his music to speak out against the Nigerian Government.
Austin Jay-Jay Okocha as 2baba
Again, these two personalities are perfect for each other. Jay-Jay Okocha was arguably the most talented player to ever come out from Nigeria, while Tuface, now 2baba, has no equal in the music industry.
The two legends were flawless in their craft and were role models for many players and artists that came after them.
Kanu Nwankwo as D’banj
While Okocha is seen as 2baba, it’s only natural for Kanu to be D’banj. Both Tu Face and D’banj played a significant role in the rapid growth of Nigerian music in the mid-2000s.
The same can also be said about Kanu and Okocha, who were arguably Nigeria’s first global superstars in the beautiful game.
Although Kanu and D’banj may have different personalities, they won numerous international awards in their respective fields.
While Kanu’s move to Arsenal made the Premier League popular among Nigerians, D’banj was also a pioneer in ensuring Afrobeats gained popularity globally.
Perpetua Nkwocha as Onyeka Onwenu
Mercy Akide may disagree, but we decided to pick Perpetua Nkwocha as Onyeka Onwenu.
Onyeka Onwenu is arguably the first female superstar in the Nigerian music industry. Her influence and music are still relevant today.
In the same vein, Nkwocha was a major influence for most female footballers now. The former Super Falcons star won four African Women’s player of the year awards.
Nkwocha won five African Women’s Championships, represented Nigeria at four FIFA Women’s World Cups, and played at three Olympic events.
Indeed, she was in a league of her own.
Asisat Oshoala as Tiwa Savage
Just as Onyeka Onwenu was the queen of her era, Tiwa Savage is also Nigeria’s leading female voice in the modern era.
So it’s only fair to match her with Asisat Oshoala. The Barcelona femeni star is Africa’s number one female footballer.
Like Nkwocha, Oshoala has also won four Africa Women’s player of the year award. However, she’s well on course to break that record as she’s just 25 and has no rival.
Both Asisat Oshoala and Tiwa Savage, aka African bad girl, have numerous awards in their respective fields and have gained international recognition.
They were recently featured on the FIFA Playon podcast, where Oshoala talked about how Tiwa changed her view on love.
Kelechi Iheanacho as Wande Coal
Both personalities started well, and a lot was expected of them. However, they’ve both failed to live up to expectations.
Kelechi Iheanacho burst into the public consciousness at the 2013 U-17 World Cup, playing a starring role in the Golden Eaglets success.
Following his exploits at the competition, he signed for Manchester City- which turned out to be a wrong decision in retrospect.
Iheanacho’s career trajectory has not followed the path which many expected. He left City in 2017 to sign for Leicester, but his time at the King Power Stadium has been mostly disappointing.
Similarly, Wande Coal had one of the best albums in Nigeria’s music industry with his debut album, Mushin to Mo Hits.
The album birthed most of the current sounds dominating the music scene. It was also supposed to be Wande Coal’s launch pad to domination.
However, the Bumper to Bumper crooner has regressed since the album debuted.
Samuel Chukwueze as Peruzzi
Samuel Chukwueze is one of the few youngsters in Nigeria’s squad that has been tipped for greatness.
The 21-year-old is not enjoying the best of the season yet, but that’s normal with young players in their developmental stages.
Peruzzi likewise is one of the new school acts in the music industry and has many hits. Music critics even predicted that he could have a Burna Boy like-run in his career.
Both Chukwueze and Peruzzi are talented in their respective fields and are destined for greatness.
Maduka Okoye as Omah Lay
Maduka Okoye only made his Super Eagles debut in the 2019 friendly against Brazil, but he has gone on to become the team’s number one in just over a year.
Okoye came on for Francis Uzoho, who suffered a knee injury in that game, and has capitalised on that to become Nigeria’s number one.
As at the time he made his debut, he was playing in Germany’s fourth tier, but he is now Sparta Rotterdam’s number one in the Dutch top-flight.
Meanwhile, Omah Lay also came into the limelight last year and was one of the artists of 2020. Both personalities are still in the early stages of their career, but they are definitely here for the long term.
Ahmed Musa as 9ice
Both Musa and Nice are legends in their own right. Nice released one of the best albums in the 21st century with his Gongo Aso album.
Nice and Musa appear to be a traditionalist. They have both married twice. The Alapomeji singer is famous for singing in his local dialect (Yoruba), but that did not stop his success.
Meanwhile, Musa is one of the few Nigerian players who played in the local league before moving abroad. Musa, who has the moniker ‘the governor, is currently Nigeria’s longest-serving player. He is the only Nigerian player to have scored a brace in a single match at two consecutive world cups.
Joe Aribo as Joe Boy
Both are new acts in their respective field and are underrated. Aribo made his debut for Nigeria in the 2019 friendly against Ukraine and has gone on to become a key player in the team.
However, he does not get the praise his performance deserves, and his excellent work sometimes goes under the radar. It is also the same for Joe Boy, who doesn’t get the same coverage as some of his fellow new acts like Fireboy, Rema and Omah Lay.
Eberechi Eze as Rema
These two guys are already proving to be masters of their craft. Eberechi Eze is a player that has been tipped to have a big future. He is a natural-born talent, which shows in his game.
Eze has been one of Crystal Palace best players this season. The 22-year-old’s profile is rising with each game in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Rema has emerged as the heir to the throne as the king of Nigerian music. The Lady crooner is tipped to be Nigeria’s next big star, and he is already on that path.
However, while there’s no battle over Rema’s citizenship, Eze’s international future is yet to be decided, with the 22-year-old eligible to play for England and Nigeria.
Iwobi as Davido
In fairness, no player compares to Davido. However, Iwobi comes close as both are under the constant pressure of proving their critics wrong.
For Davido, he is consistently trying to prove his success is down to hard work and not because he comes from a wealthy family. In contrast, Iwobi has come under criticism for failing to take his game to the next level and not reaching his full potential.
Osimhen as Wizkid
Osimhen has not made enough impact to justify the Wizkid comparison. However, he is Africa’s most expensive player while Wizkid is Africa’s biggest artiste- hence the comparison.
Osimhen joined Napoli from Lille for a record-breaking 81.3 euros last summer, making him Africa’s most expensive player.
Wizkid, meanwhile, has one of the biggest fanbases in the world and has been on top of the game for almost ten years.
Ndidi as Burnaboy
While Wizkid is the most popular African artist, Burnaboy’s body of work has gained more international recognition.
His last two albums have been nominated for a Grammy award, and he’s currently the star right now. In the same vein, Ndidi is Nigeria’s most rated player in Europe.
The former Genk manager is one of the best players in his position and also one of the vital players in Leicester City’s squad.
Don Jazzy as Gernot Rohr
It’s only fair to pick Don Jazzy as the manager. No one has an eye for talent as he does. His resume speaks for him with the burly producer responsible for the success of artists like D’banj, Tiwa Savage, Wande Coal and Reekado Banks.
It’s only fair he gets to manage these players.
Do you agree with our selections, or did we miss out on anyone? Share your thoughts in the comment section.