9 of the most iconic Nigerian celebrations
Over the years, goal celebrations have continued to be an excellent expressive art that footballers use to indulge the fans even as they themselves savour the glorious moment after finding the back of the net.
Here Sportsration list some of the most memorable celebrations that has been witnessed in Nigerian football.
9. Kelechi Iheanacho “YES!” at 2013 U-17 World Cup
In what was his breakout tournament some nine years ago, Kelechi Iheanacho powered Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets to a 6-1 win over Mexico during their U-17 World Cup opener.
He celebrated each of his four goals by raising his hands up in WWE superstar Daniel Bryan’s trademark celebration fashion _“yes, yes, yes!”_
Interestingly, a few of the Mexican fans joined Nigerian players and mumbled “yes, yes, yes” when the referee blew the final whistle.
8. Lagos fans celebrating Julius Aghahowa’s winner vs Senegal (NIGHA 2000)
With Nigeria trailing by a goal and just over 10 minutes left on the clock, 17-year-old Aghahowa came off the bench to score a late equaliser for Nigeria in a home encounter with West African rivals Senegal.
To cap the youngster’s memorable outing, Aghahowa poked in the winner only few minutes into extra-time. He did well to celebrate with impressive acrobatic skills and the fans just couldn’t contain their excitement as some surprisingly invaded he pitch to join in celebration.
7. Nigeria vs. Ivory Coast (South Africa ’13)
It was a day every Nigerian football fan would not forget in a hurry as the Super Eagles rose to the occasion to beat the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire 2-1 and advance into the semi-finals of the competition.
The Nigeria’s defense did an amazing job to prevent threats from the likes prime Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure thanks to masterclass performances from Kenneth Omeruo and John Obi.
6. Tijani Babaginda vs. South Africa (NIGHA 2000)
Babangida scored two spectacular first-half goals as Nigeria advanced into the final of the AFCON 2000 with a 2-0 victory over South Africa on home soil, Lagos.
With over 40,000 cheering fans at the Surulere Stadium, Nigeria took the lead after just 40 seconds with a magnificent solo effort from the ex-Ajax winger.
He added a second in the 34th minute, curling the ball brilliantly into the far top corner of the net.
Babangida was lifted by Taribo West in front of the Lagos supporters after the game, the fans of course went wild.
5. Celestine Babayaro vs Argentina (Atlanta ’96)
Celestine Babayaro’s bullet header in the 1996 Summer Olympics final was superb, but his hilarious celebration was equally as epic as the goal.
Babayaro performed a funny chicken dance celebration to the excitement of the crowd after nodding home from Nwakwo Kanu’s cross.
4. Rashidi Yekini vs Bulgaria (USA ’94)
Legendary striker, Yekini had the honour of scoring Nigeria’s first ever World Cup goal and his celebration truly gave off one of the football’s most iconic images.
It was a really passionate celebration for such a historic moment. As soon as he stabbed in, he rushed towards the net, stretched his arms into the mesh and roared as he covered his face with the net.
3. Finidi George vs Greece (USA ’94)
Finidi George vs Greece, 1994. #Greatest90sGoals pic.twitter.com/duOif99dk5
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) September 8, 2020
Arguably Nigeria’s greatest winger and one of the very best in his generation (90s), George earned a reputation for his unique celebrations for both club and country.
He scored a fantastic goal in the 1994 World Cup against Greece, lobbing the ball over the goalkeeper. To celebrate, he took to the corner flag and performed a urinating dog immitation. His teammates soon joined in the excitement.
2. Nwankwo Kanu’s equaliser vs Brazil (Atlanta ’96)
Nwankwo Kanu netted an incredibe last-minute equaliser vs. Brazil at the 1996 Summer Olympics, he ran round the sideline in a funny hand swinging dance.
The strike is officially ranked as seventh-best in the history of the Olympics Games.
It was also Kanu that secured the Dream Team victory in the extra-time with an emphatic finish with his weaker foot to earn the team a place in the final.
1. Sunday Oliseh vs Spain (France ’98)
Sunday Oliseh’s long-range strike against Spain remains one of Nigeria’s most memorable and celebrated moment.
In the 1998 World Cup in France, Nigeria produced a famous 3-2 win over Spain with Oliseh firing a screamer from over 25 yards to win the game. He was so emotional that ran to the touchline screaming.
Speaking about the incredible strike in an interview with FIFA TV, Oliseh said: “It is not just because of the goal but because of what it represented for us as a team and me personally as a human being.”
Which of these celebrations can you remember and relate with?