Emmanuel Amunike played for the Super Eagles between 1993 and 2001.
Ex-Super Eagles star Emmanuel Amunike has stated that he did not win the prestigious Ballon d'Or award because he played in Nigeria.
Amunike played for the Super Eagles between 1993 and 2001 and was a key figure in the golden generation of players that won the 1994 African Cup of Nations and later went on to make the country’s first appearance at a FIFA World Cup tournament.
Amunike played in the Nigerian football league for Julius Berger during his early days before he moved to Europe.
Speaking at a La Liga event, Amunike stated that starting his career in Nigeria was a reason why he was unable to be crowned World Player of the Year.
He said, "I usually tell some of my friends that if I had started my football career as a European player, maybe, I would have won the World Footballer of the year award."
Amunike who won the 1994 African Footballer of the Year did not elaborate as to how and why starting his playing career was detrimental to his hopes of winning the Ballon d’Or.
The forward who played for Spanish giants Barcelona, however, was happy that the Spanish division was connecting with Nigerian football as he said, "We have to make good use of this opportunity to develop our football. One thing is for people to have dream and another is to have plans. Dream without plan is just an illusion."
Amunike was part of the Dream Team that won Olympic gold in the football event at the 1996 Olympic Games.
He played for European sides, Sporting CP, Barcelona, Albacete as well as Busan I'Cons and Al-Wehdat before his retirement.
Amunike is now a coach and most notably led the Golden Eaglets to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2015.