Top 10 football clubs in Nigeria: Star players, fans, history of NPFL clubs

Results among the top 10 football clubs in Nigeria are a testament to the unpredictability and fierce competition in African football over in the recent past.

This unique characteristic among football clubs in Nigeria lies in the fact that no team have managed to clinch the title twice in succession during this period.

The dynamism of the top football clubs in Nigeria showcases the intense battles that unfold on the pitch, creating an environment where any team can rise to the occasion and claim the coveted championship.

One of the significant challenges contributing to this competitiveness is the sheer physicality of the top football clubs in Nigeria.

Players endure rigorous matches, navigating through a demanding schedule that often involves extensive travel nationwide.

Covering vast distances to reach match venues adds another layer of difficulty, emphasising the league's diverse landscape and the dedication required from football clubs in Nigeria.

Enyimba won the NPFL title in the 2022/23 season, while in the 2021/22 season, Rivers United came out on top.

The honours for league winners in 2020/21 went to Uyo side Akwa United as 2019 was cancelled, while in 2019, Enyimba won it, with Kano Pillars coming second.

Top 10 football clubs in Nigeria

Enyimba Football Club

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  • Base: Aba, Abia State
  • Nickname: Peoples’ Elephant
  • Colours: Blue and white
  • Stadium: Enyimba International Stadium
  • Capacity: 16,000
  • Current Coach: Finidi George

Title/Trophies won

  • Nigeria League x9, CAF Champions League x2, FA Cup x4, Nigeria Super x4, CAF Super Cup x2.
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Photo by Enyimba Media

History

Enyimba Football Club, based in Aba, Abia State, Nigeria, have a rich history. Established in 1976, the club gained prominence in the 2000s, earning the status of Nigeria's most successful football team.

Their accolades include two African Champions League titles, nine Nigerian championships, and four Federation Cups since 2001. Notably, their latest league triumph occurred in the 2022–23 season.

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Photo by Enyimba Media

Fan culture

The fans in Aba, passionately referred to as “Aba fans,” contribute to the vibrant atmosphere on matchdays with spirited chants like “eeeaaa’ during possession and “ooouu” when the opposition gains control, coupled with the continuous beats of drums and trumpets from the supporters' club.

Enyimba FC fans, especially those in the Colombia stands, are celebrated for their infectious energy and love for the game, although passionate support is common among football clubs in Nigeria.

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Photo by Enyimba Media

Notable players – past: Obinna Nwaneri, Vincent Enyeama, Dele Ayenugba, Chinedu Udoji, Emeka Nwanna, Romanus Ojinta, Ndidi Anumunu

Notable players – present: Pascal Eze, Olorunleke Ojo, Daniel Daga, Chijioke Mbaoma, Bassa Djeri

Kano Pillars Football Club

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  • Base: Kano, Kano State
  • Nickname: Sai Masu Gida
  • Colours: Yellow, green, white
  • Stadium: Sani Abacha Stadium
  • Capacity: 16,000
  • Current Coach: Abdu Maikaba

Titles won:

  • Nigeria League x4, Nigeria FA Cup x1, Nigeria Super Cup x1

History

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Photo by Kano Pilllars Media

Founded in 1990 by former Chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation Ibrahim Galadima, merged WRECA FC, Bank of the North FC, and Kano Golden Stars and they morphed into Kano Pillars.

They are unarguably the most popular, and most followed side in the north and have established themselves as one of the top 10 football clubs in Nigeria.

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Photo by Kano Pillars Media

Kano Pillars are famous for producing Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa as well as the late Super Eagles goalkeeper Abiodun Baruwa and Ahmed ‘Yaro Yaro’ Garba, among others.

Fan culture

Kano Pillars have one of the most colourful fans in Nigeria, with the flowing green and yellow gowns adorning the landscape of the Sani Abacha Stadium. They are known to be very loud and cultural, with their talking drums playing all through games, singing songs of folklore, and stories about the ancient city of Kano.

Notable players – past: Ahmed Garba, Yinka Salihu, Gambo Mohammed, Kabiru Baleria, Akinkunmi Akinsehinde.

Notable players – present: Rabiu Ali, Ibrahim Abubakar, Ibrahim Galadima, Yusuf Abdullahi, Mustapha Ibrahim

Plateau United Football Club

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  • Base: Jos, Plateau State
  • Nickname: Peace Boys
  • Colours: Yellow, green, white
  • Stadium: New Jos Stadium
  • Capacity: 30,000
  • Current Coach: Mbwas Mangut

Titles won

  • Nigerian League title: 1
  • Nigerian FA Cup: 1
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Photo by Plateau United Media / David King

History 

The team was established in 1975 as JIB Rocks Strikers before a change of name in 1991 to Plateau United when the state wanted to rebrand itself among the football clubs in Nigeria.

No football club in the state had won a national title after almost nine attempts until 1999 when Plateau United defeated Iwuanyanwu Nationale 1-0 in the final of the Nigeria FA Cup at the National Stadium in Lagos.

They didn’t win anything major until 2017 when they won the league under the tutelage of Kennedy Boboye, finally joining the ranks of the top football clubs in Nigeria.

Fan culture 

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Photo by Plateau United Media / David King

Plateau fans pride themselves as the best and most vibrant in the league with their matchday songs to support their team. The fans always expose their ‘tifos’ at every game, to describe what they feel that week.

There’s the added measure of an all-female regimental band that plays acoustic music at every home game to add to the ambience and atmosphere at the New Jos Stadium games.

Notable players – past: John Mikel Obi, Patrick Mancha, Dajuma Isandu, Cornelius Gopar, Celestine Babayaro

Notable players – present: Charles Henlong, Benjamin Turba, Albert Hilary, Nenrot Silas, Daniel Itodo

Akwa United Football Club

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  • Base: Uyo, Akwa Ibom State
  • Nickname: Promise Keepers
  • Colours: Orange and white
  • Stadium: Nest of Champions, Uyo
  • Capacity: 30,000
  • Current coach: Umar Abdullahi

Titles won

  • Nigeria League: 1
  • Nigeria FA Cup: 2
  • Nigeria Super Cup: 1
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Photo by Akwa United

History 

In 1996, the late Navy Captain Joseph Adeusi, a sports enthusiast and Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State, tasked CAF General Coordinator Paul Bassey with establishing one of the football clubs in Nigeria.

Within three months, Bassey struck gold, discovering that Nitel was disbanding its Enugu-based club, Nitel Vasco Da Gama. After negotiations in Lagos, Akwa Ibom secured the acquisition and renamed it Ibom Stars Football Club.

The team debuted in the 1996/1997 Pro League season, led by Pioneer Chairman Barrister Assam Assam and coached by Bernard Ogbe. The Uyo Township Stadium served as their home ground, with a red jersey for home matches and white for away games.

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Photo by Akwa United Media

Fans culture 

Akwa United fans are known for their flamboyant dresses, which usually come in orange and white. Every home game is a carnival as they hold a small gathering before games around the stadium before making a grand entrance into the stands. They sing mostly religious songs and war songs popular among people from Akwa Ibom State.

Notable players – past: Mfon Udoh, Emmanuel Ariwa, Orok Akarandut, Emmanuel Ekpo, Itoroh Akpan

Notable players – present: Jean Efala, Wisdom Ndon, David Phillip, Ubong Friday, Seyi Oguntayo

Remo Stars Football Club

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  • Base: Ikenne, Ogun State
  • Nickname: Sky Blue Stars
  • Colours: Skyblue, White
  • Stadium: Remo Stars Stadium
  • Capacity: 6,000
  • Current Coach: Daniel Ogunmodede

Titles won – Nil

History 

Founded in 2004 by Mr. Kunle Soname, the grassroots football club in Ketu, Lagos, originally named FC Dender of Lagos, aimed to provide a platform for youth development and recreation.

Its evolution into REMO STARS Sports Club in 2011 marked a shift to Ikenne, Ogun State, emphasising rebranding and a newfound identity aimed at becoming one of the premier football clubs in Nigeria.

Under Osho Fatai's guidance, the club experienced professional growth, adopting the distinctive Sugar Concept playing style. Despite notable performances, Fatai Osho and the club parted ways at the end of the 2013 season.

Remo Stars FC secured its first promotion to the Nigeria Professional Football League in the 2015/2016 NNL season but faced relegation in the subsequent Premier League season.

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Photo by Icon Sport

Managed by Nduka Ugbade and later Kennedy Boboye, the club navigated ups and downs, culminating in the establishment of a robust youth academy system in 2016 under Daniel Ogunmodede's leadership.

Despite inconsistency in the Premier League, Remo Stars FC demonstrated resilience, securing promotion through the 2017/2018 Super 8 Play-offs competition in Aba, Abia State. The club's journey reflects its commitment to youth development and navigating the challenges as they seek to become one of the top 10 football clubs in Nigeria.

Fan culture 

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Photo by Icon Sport

The supporters of Remo Stars are self-sustained; they put on the jerseys of the club on match days. They sing mostly Yoruba songs such as ‘Gbemisoke, Gbewadide,' and others relative to the base of the club.

Notable stars – past: Victor Mbaoma, Oche Salifu, Ekene Awazie, Awoyemi Abdulrasheed, Ebenezer Akinsanmiro

Notable players – present: Sikiru Alimi, Kayode Bankole, Dayo Ojo, Junior Nduka, Adebayo Abayomi, Sodiq Ismail.

Rivers United Football Club

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  • Base: Port Harcourt, Rivers State
  • Nickname: Pride of Rivers
  • Colours: Blue, White
  • Stadium: Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium
  • Capacity: 30,000
  • Current Coach: Stanley Eguma

Titles: NPFL – 1

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Photo by Icon Sport

History

 Rivers United was established in 2016 following the amalgamation of two Rivers State clubs, Dolphins and Sharks FC. The two clubs were merged to form a football club in Nigeria known as Rivers United.

Fans culture

Like the club, fans of Rivers United adore their club and take great pride in the club. United fans can be found sporting the famous blue kits, with blue and white merchandise while singing popular songs specific to football clubs in Nigeria.

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Photo by Icon Sport

Notable players: Victor Sochima, Bernard Ovoke, Ebube Duru, Theophilus Afelokhai, Sunday Rotimi, Azubuike Egwueke.

Notable players – present: Nyima Nwagua, Victor Sochima, Kazie Enyinnaya, Joseph Onoja, Williams Ukeme

Lobi Stars Football Club

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  • Base: Makurdi, Benue State
  • Nickname: Shoe Get Size, Alia Boys
  • Colours: Blue, Red, Black, White
  • Stadium: Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi
  • Capacity: 8,000
  • Current Coach: Eugene Agagbe

Titles won: Nigerian League 1, Nigeria Super Cup 1, Nigeria FA Cup 1

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Photo by Lobi Stars Media

History

Founded in 1981 as Hawks of Makurdi by the Benue State Sports Council, the football club underwent several name changes due to ownership shifts.

Initially renamed Benue Breweries Limited (BBL) Hawks Football Club in 1985, the club saw another transformation when state-owned Lobi Bank acquired it in 1990, becoming Lobi Bank Football Club.

In 1999, under coach Godwin Koko Uwua, Lobi Stars clinched the maiden edition of the Nigerian Super League, a new format introduced in the Nigeria Football League, firmly writing their names in the history books as one of the top 10 football clubs in Nigeria.

The club achieved another milestone in 2003 by securing its first and only FA Cup title, defeating Sharks FC of Port-Harcourt. However, they faced defeat in the 2005 domestic FA Cup finals against Enyimba, arguably the most noteworthy among the top 10 football clubs in Nigeria.

In the 2008–09 season, Lobi Stars narrowly avoided relegation by one point, securing 13 wins, 10 draws, and 15 losses. They currently play at the Lafia City Stadium due to renovation work at the Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi.

Fan culture

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Photo by Sunshine Stars Media

Lobi Stars fans exhibit a close attachment to the team and the rich cultural heritage of Benue State by decking themselves in the three dominant colours of the three major tribes in the state. Red, Black, and White are usually seen around the stadium on match days, with trumpets and drums a major part of the culture of the fans when Lobi Stars play.

Notable stars – past: Anthony Okpotu, Moses Orkuma, Terhelum Imadu, Tersoo Akile, Benedict Atule, Ogar Odey

Notable players – present: Amadu Liman, Kumaga Suur, Samuel Tiza, Chinedu Sunday, Barnabas Imenger

Rangers International Football Club

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  • Base: Enugu, Enugu State
  • Nickname: Flying Antelopes
  • Colours: Red, White
  • Stadium: Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu
  • Capacity: 25,000
  • Current Coach: Fidelis Ilechukwu

Titles won: Nigerian League x7, Nigeria FA Cup x6, CAF Cup Winners Cup 1

History

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Photo by Rangers Media

Rangers Int'L F.C of Enugu came into existence by the instrumentality of the legendary sports administrator, Late (Sir) Jerry Enyeazu and other like-minded personalities on February 25, 1970. Enyeazu came up with the idea of forming the club to positively engage the millions of youths just coming out from the trauma of war.

Within a few years of its formation, the impact was felt throughout the country and continent. Rangers remain the only club among its contemporaries that has maintained its top-flight status since its formation. It's no surprise then that they are regarded as one of the top 10 football clubs in Nigeria.

Fan culture

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Photo by Rangers Media

Rangers fans are among the most passionate among football clubs in Nigeria and are well known for their drumming and choreographed clapping and dancing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium. They always appear in red and white outfits on match-day and are known as Rangers International Supporters Club with over 15 thousand registered members.

Notable stars – past: Christian Chukwu, Emmanuel Okala, Ernest Ufele, Dominic Nwodobo, Chisom Egbuchulam, Okey Odita, John Nnam.

Notable stars – present: Detan Ogundare, Kalu Nweke, Kazeem Ogunleye, Godwin Obaje, Saviour Isaac

Kwara United Football Club

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  • Base: Ilorin, Kwara State
  • Nickname: Harmony Boys, Afonja Warriors
  • Colours: Yellow, Green, White
  • Stadium: Kwara Stadium Complex
  • Capacity: 18,000
  • Current Coach: Kabir Dogo

Titles won:

  • Nigeria Premier League regular season champions, 2006.
  • National Second division 1997
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Photo by Kwara United Media

History

Kwara United Football Club traces its origins to the Kwara Water Corporation Football Club in 1974, initially established for Water Corporation staff. Its success led to an expanded scope, and by 1979, it qualified for the National League second division.

The club faced financial challenges and changed names multiple times, eventually becoming Kwara United Football Club of Ilorin in 1997 as they became one of the football clubs in Nigeria. Despite setbacks, the club secured third place in the 2006 Super Four play-off, earning a spot in the 2007 CAF Confederation Cup.

Notable coaching staff included Swedes Roger Palmgren and Johan Eriksson. Relegated in the 2007/08 season, they swiftly regained promotion the following year as Division 1-A champions. With an Investment Consultant appointed, the club aims for privatisation and increased private sector involvement in funding within two years.

Fan culture

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Photo by Kwara United Media

Kwara United fans love to dress in their native attire with the club's matching colours while using drums to ginger the players on the pitch. They have a lot of Yoruba folklore songs that they chant to create a great atmosphere on game day.

Notable stars – past: Taofeek Babatunde, Lukman Ijaiya

Notable players – present: Dele Aiyenugba, Afeez Nosiru, Kabir Balogun, Adewale Adeyinka, Iasiah Ejeh

Sunshine Stars Football Club

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  • Base: Akure, Ondo State
  • Nickname: Akure Gunners, Owena Waves
  • Colors: Orange, Blue, and White
  • Stadium: Ondo State Sports Complex
  • Capacity: 5,000
  • Current Coach: Kennedy Boboye

Titles won

National Second Division x2

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Photo by Sunshine Stars Media

History

Founded in 1995 by the Ondo State government, the club has been in and about in the Nigeria National League and the Nigeria Premier Football League. They won the NNL in 2001 and 2007 from 2011 and 2012 when they made the semi-finals of the CAF Confederations Cup and the CAF Champions League in two years, a remarkable achievement among football clubs in Nigeria.

Fan culture

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Photo by Sunshine Stars Media

 One of the most vociferous fans in the league who sing as loud as they can during matches to cheer their team. Sometimes, they have a mascot come out during games to create some sort of entertainment.

Like most football clubs in Nigeria, they use drums and trumpets to sing songs during their matches and create a carnival-type atmosphere during their matches.

Notable stars – past: Godfrey Oboabona, Tamen Medrano, Okiki Afolabi, Tunde Adeniji

Notable players – present: Mafeng Pam, David Ariyo, Sunday Abe, Yakubu Habib, Seun Olunlayo

Top 10 football clubs in Nigeria: Star players, fans, history of NPFL clubs
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a seasoned Africa sports journalist, and a former Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 national team. He is widely acknowledged as an authority on the NPFL and African football, Randa is esteemed for his expertise in football content creation. Furthermore, he holds the distinction of being Nigeria's foremost sports kit designer and a trailblazer in the realm of sports graphics in Nigeria.