Since the advent of the FIFA and Continental football tournaments for junior level in the 80’s, every country has been faced with the responsibility of selecting at least 23 footballers who would represent them at every edition.
Over the years, Nigeria has been known for selecting talented players who we believe are the best in the country at the time of selection and also hope they would transmit the same energy they had in the junior stages to the senior level. Some of the players come home with individual awards and those who don’t display outstanding performances at these tournament.
Unfortunately, quite a lot of them never get to make it to the big stages and a majority of those who do don’t stay at that level for long. What could have gone wrong? What happened to these talented players? Where are they now? Join us as we refresh your memories and take you through some of these player’s career and their current statuses.
He was known for his dribbling skills and his one touch ball control. At age 16, he was listed in the 2008 squad to represent Nigeria at the African Cup of Nations in Ghana. The midfielder was part of the U-17 squad that won the world cup in 2007. He was a key figure in the midfield and was tipped to take over the attacking midfield role for the National team. Haruna joined French team AS Monaco the same year he won the gold medal in the U-17 world cup South Korea where he played for four years, scoring 4 goals in 51 appearances. He then moved to Ukrainian side Dynamo Kyiv where he spent six years and made a total of 50 appearances scoring 8 goals. He made his international debut in 2008 and he completely fell out favor of the Nigerian national team in 2015 in his eight appearance in Nigerias second AFCON qualifier game against Tanzania where he was substituted in the first half for Sylvester Igboun. He has since then spent most of time on loan. He After trails with FK Vardar, RC Lens and Odense BoldKlub, he then joined Lithuanian club FK palanga. He currently plays for Armenian club FC Ararat Yerevan.
Rabiu Ibrahim was well known for his accurate through passes, ball control, strength and ability to hold possession of the ball. He also played alongside with Haruna Lukman in the U-17 world cup in South Korea. Prior to this tournament, he featured in the Africas U-17 Cup of Nations where he was nicknamed New Jay Jay Okocha. At age 16, he was included in the National team squad for the 2008 African Cup of nations tournament. He is one of the few players to have featured in all levels for the Nigeria football team. However, Rabiu Ibrahim made only one appearance for the national team which was in a 2-0 win against Chad in Kaduna for the 2017 AFCON qualifiers. Rabiu has played for some top European clubs which include Dutch club PSV Eindhoven, Celtic and Kilmarnock, Slovak club Trencin, Belgian club Gent and he currently plays for Slovak club SK Slovan Bratislavia.