The adventure of the likes of Stephen Keshi, Etim Esin, Daniel Amokachi, Austin Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu and Finidi George overseas changed their fortunes from ordinary amateur footballers struggling with daily existence to professional footballers worth millions of naira. Investments of those who play the round leather game already amounts to billions of naira. Here is our list of the five wealthiest footballers in Nigeria.
Jay Jay Okocha
Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha is one of the very best footballers to come out of Nigeria and indeed the African continent. Okocha had a football career of over 20 years in top teams in Germany, Turkey, England and oil rich, Qatar. Having made his mark on the football pitch, the former Super Eagles captain has gone into business where he is not only making money, but helping the youths to actualise their dreams.
While he is more known for his club and relaxation spot, CLUB 10, at highbrow Victoria Island, Lagos, Okocha actually controls a conglomerate, named ‘Jay Jay Okocha Group West Africa Limited’ which is said to have employed over 250 staff.
The conglomerate is into many businesses which include operation of a bureau de change, restaurant, bar, importation of consumer goods such as cars and wines, provision of security personnel and equipment. Okocha’s company is also into property development, road construction, sales and distribution of electronics and soccer players’ management.
The company which was incorporated about seven years ago went into full operation in 2008 shortly after the former national team player retired from active football. Okocha’s Club 10 ranks very high amongst night clubs in the country.
Although retired, Kanu popularly known as “Papilo” has made a lot of money in football, after playing for top clubs like Ajax FC, Inter Milan, Arsenal, West Brom, and Portsmouth FC where he finally retired from active cub football. At the last check, King Kanu earned as much as £30,000 weekly at Championship side, Portsmouth before the club had financial problems.
The ex-Nigeria skipper owns a mansion in Opebi area of Lagos State which is valued at about N150 million. However, one could say his biggest asset is the Hardley Apartments, a five star hotel located in Victoria Island. It is one of the biggest hotels in Victoria Island and industry sources say the hotel rakes in a profit of over N2 million daily.
The hotel and night club cost the former African footballer of the year about N600 million to establish about six years ago. Kanu is also said to own a photo-shop on Allen Avenue in Lagos State and three other mansions in Park View, Ikoyi.
The one-time African Footballer of The Year has also invested in a bottle water company and the Kanu Heart Foundation, a charity organisation where he gives back to the society. His estimated asset and cash is in billions of naira.
John Mikel Obi
Sources say John Mikel Obi, the Chelsea FC midfielder is the current highest earning Nigerian footballer. He joined Chelsea in 2006 from Norwegian club, Fc Lyn Oslo on a $25 million transfer. He is currently on $120,000, (N20m), per week excluding bonuses, and income from participating at the UEFA Champions League.
The 25-year-old Jos-born player owns mansions in Jos, Lagos and London worth about N800m. He has shares in top companies, and he recently launched a record label, Matured Money Mind (MMM). He drives a Mercedes Benz G Wagon, Black Mercedes G500, a Range Rover Sport and a N30Million Bentley Continental. He once said: “It’s very difficult finding a wife.” Why won’t it be with all that cash.
He’s been everywhere. The on loan UD Levante of Spain forward has played for top clubs like Inter-Milan of Italy, Newcastle United of England , Birmingham City of England, Vfl Wolfsborg of Germany, Rubin Kazan of Russia and Seatle Sounders in the US before his recent megabucks transfer to Chinese club, Shanghai Greenland Shenhua.
Before this he was part of the MLS League where he got $3 million annual salary at club Seattle Sounders FC. He played for Seattle Sounders from 2013-2015 during this time he made 72 match appearances and scored 40 goals in all these matches. Obafemi Martins was the fifth highest paid player in US Major League Soccer for the 2013 season, according to a players’ union release.
He is also the highest ever paid player for Seattle Sounders with an annual basic salary of $3million. The 28-year-old striker owns two mansions at VGC Lagos worth N500 million, a massive home in Como, Italy valued at N800million, and top hotels in Italy. He splashed N400million on his charity foundation not too long ago.
He drives a Lamboghini worth N50m, Porsche Gemballa worth N20m, BMW X6worth N18m, and a Ferrarri sports car. Martins received his U.S. green card in 2015 which qualifies him as a domestic player for MLS roster purposes. He is married to Ghanaian-Italian Abigail Barwuah, sister of Mario Balotelli. The couple has one child named Kendrick, born in 2013.
‘Yak’ as he is popularly called is still widely regarded as the most successful Nigerian footballer to play in England. His assets include a mansion on Manchester Road, London, a duplex in VGC, 2 massive buildings in Benin City and hotels in Auchi, Edo State. The former Boro man owns a petrol station in Benin City which is run by his brother Momo Aiyegbeni. In his garage back home in Nigeria are a fleet of cars including a Range Rover and a BMW.