Presenting: The Top Five Female Players Of All Time (PART II)
We identified two of our top five players of all time in the 1st piece. In fifth place was our darling Asisat Oshoala and in fourth place was the fascinating Ann Chiejine. What we’ll be chronicling in this piece are the top three that have cemented their places in history and of course in our hearts
Strap Yourselves In…..
3) Florence Omagbemi
There are well and truly no words that can’t effectively convey the status of such an enigma. How do you describe a legend like Omagbemi? Popularly known as “Skippo”, a name that didn’t end with Stephen Keshi during his playing days, she is the longest serving Captain of the national team (both men and women) and as such was the epitome of panache and some more. As a defender who could be utilized as a deep lying midfielder, she exuded grace, oozed assertiveness, played with conviction, backed her teammates with morale, undaunted dedication and caped it by leaving on a HIGH. Little wonder she is vastly credited as the FACE of the 1st Generation Falcons- a team that did not even exist before 1991 and the leader that galvanized Nigeria to its best finish at the World stage; Quarterfinals in 1999-. She represented Nigeria in four world cups 1991, 1995, 1999 and 2003 as well as the 2000 Olympic games. Not only did her exploits end with the team, she went further in arming herself with the necessary tools to thrive and succeed as a Coach. She has been involved in virtually all tiers of the Women’s team in Nigeria.
Pre Retirement- Relevant Post Retirement- Still Relevant
Can we still dream of a team of Omagbemis…Please????
Now here comes the crunch tie. We are about to unravel unarguably two of the most lethal players of all time. Rightful heiresses to the tag of THE BEST
2) Mercy Akide
…….Falls just a notch short. For none other than the apparent reason of longevity (How Cruel). My word did we have some talent! “Marvellous Mercy” was to Nigeria what Beer is to the Germans….We got drawn to and drunk in her stupendous brilliance! She was a brute on the field, a midfield menace; an attacking bug that just wouldn’t go away, a force of nature to be reckoned with in Africa and beyond its shores. She served the nation in three World Cups; 1995, 1999 and 2003 as well as Sydney 2000 and the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Four time Winner of the Africa Women’s Championship, she also took home the debut accolade of the African Women’s Player of the Year in 2001. She made the FIFA 1999 and 2004 World All Star list. We can keep raving about her but I believe we can agree in unison that it is the team and individual laurels that separates the Shark from the Catfish (pardon my French) and Mercy was indeed a Shark. She continues to post successes beyond her playing days; as a Coach to a US based collegiate team. This FIFA Ambassador has got it all hence, it’s unfathomable that there’s still someone who trumps her incredulous achievement.
1) Perpetua Nkwocha
There were just too many things about her that made us brag that we had our very own Ronaldinho seasoned with some Pele topping. Ronaldinho in the sense of the jaw dropping finesse, skill and a great smile; Pele with that unmatchable brilliance and deadly finish. Nkwocha was told many times just like Serena Williams to leave the women’s’ category of her sport and play in the men’s’. Derogatory in part, but the idea should not be lost in some sexist translation…..She operated in another galaxy!! If Mercy Akide was a raw spark then Perpetua Nkwocha was the finished magic. Her might, pace, intelligence, awareness and clinical touch was a defender’s nightmare and this made all the difference for the next generation of Falcons. This four time Africa Women’s Player of the year (2004, 2005, 2011, 2012) and FIFA Women’s Player of the Year nominee is the leading Nigerian goal scorer of all time. She has won the AWC 5 times; 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2014 and has represented Nigeria in three World Cups 2003, 2007 and 2011 and three Olympic tournaments in 2000, 2004 and 2008. This 39 year olds’ steely resolve has given birth to the generation of the Oparanozie, Oshoala and Ordega; one she can look at with pride. Currently playing and Coaching in Sweden, Perpetua will fall into anyone’s Nigerian team of 11 and that in itself is a testament of not just her worth but her legacy as the most decorated African player of all time.
So there you have it. Not the quintessential team of five with all the World Cup titles or Ballon D’or awards that we would have certainly loved but a team of winners. Our Winners…
And We Love Them. Just the Way They Are!
Article by Janine Anthony