There is a tradition in Nigerian football where players are identified with their nicknames owing to one reason or the other.
But the fact remains that whatever a player of the beautiful round leather game is named after, it simply denotes who the personality really is.
Some of these Ex-Super Eagles internationals have been confirmed worthy of their nicknames because of their exploits on and off the pitch.
Not many players are known by their real names but quite a few have become household nicknames in Nigeria’s rich footballing history.
Here are some of ex-internationals nicknames and how they got it.
1. Nwankwo Kanu (Papilo)
Kanu is arguably Nigeria’s most successful footballer who represented the country at the U-17, U-23 and the senior national team levels.
A distinctive attribute from the former Arsenal striker is his wisdom, intelligence and meekness when dealing with people on and off the field, which was how he got the name Papilo from his friends.
2. Austin Okocha (Jay Jay)
Okocha is Super Eagles most enterprising player because of his crowd pleasing dribbling skills and that has earned the former Bolton Wanderers captain an ambassadorial role with FIFA.
The name Jay Jay was actually given to his elder brother, Emmanuel, who was a former national team player but as time progressed Austin took over the name from his sibling which now has global recognition.
As he became more and more influential on the field of play, his name became so relevant during his playing spells in England to the extent his magical skills was being understudied at Bolton University.
3. Stephen Keshi (Big Boss)
So far in Nigeria’s footballing history, the captain with the most impeccable leadership qualities was late Stephen Keshi.
He was christened the Big Boss by his teammates because he was also involved in the squad selection with former handler Clemens Westerhof before a match.
The late Keshi captained virtually all the clubs he played for in Europe because of his leadership qualities and several Nigerian players secured a playing career in Belgium from the former Anderlecht captain.
No wonder his leadership made him excel as a coach where he became the second player in Africa to win the Nations Cup as player and as a technical adviser. He also qualified Togo and Nigeria to two respective World Cups.
4. Peter Rufai (Dodo Mayana)
Goalkeepers usually derive their names from how safe their hands are but ironically the great Peter Rufai was nicknamed Dodo Mayana, the name of a popular dancer with the legendary Afro Beat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
The former Stationery Stores stopper was also instrumental to the Super Eagles silver winning exploits at Maroc 88’ with his outstanding performances. He caught the deciding kick against Algeria that qualified Nigeria into the finals.
In a one-on-one interview with NAIJ.com Sports, the former Deportivo La Caruna shot stopper said he had his most successful spell at Portuguese side S.C Farense where he spent three seasons from 1994-1997.
5. Bright Omokaro (10-10)
The circumstance behind Bright Omokaro’s nickname 10-10 was when he delivered a life-threatening tackle to an Algerian player in a semifinal match at Maroc 88’ Africa Cup of Nations.
The Green Eagles were reduced to 10-men when Bright came in as a second half substitute. He was told by the then coach Manfred Hoener to tactically take a man out since the Northern African country have used all three substitutions.
After the incident the commentator became to call it a 10-10 tackle, a name which gained popularity on the teams’ arrival from the tournament.
6. Segun Odegbami (Mathematical Odegbami)
The legendary Segun Odegbami was so good that his speed and fast calculated dribbling skills was likened to that of Mathematics.
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Odegbami talent was fully realized at Nigeria’s triumph of the 1980 Nations Cup where the right winger was named player of the tournament where his style of play drew the world’s attention was called Mathematical.
7. Teslim Balogun (Thunder Balogun)
A player of Teslim Balogun’s pedigree became a myth in the Nigerian fold. His left foot often releases a bullet of a shot which has done damages to opposing teams.
He was nicknamed Thunder Balogun because of his power driver which according to reports broke two goalies’ hands while playing in England and killed another goalkeeper after been hit in the stomach.
8. Daniel Amokachi (The Bull)
Super Eagles ex-international Amokachi was nicknamed 'the bull' because of his speed, physical strength and technique during his playing days.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com asked Nigerians if the Super Eagles are always better than the Indomitable Lions. Watch video below.