Daniel Amokachi is a Nigerian football legend, having been part of the Super Eagles' frontline during a glorious period which included African and Olympic success and stirring displays at the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA™.FIFA.com takes a closer look at this powerful front-runner whose career was cut short by a serious knee injury.
Amokachi first made a splash on the international scene at the CAF African Cup of Nations 1990 where, despite still playing for domestic outfit Ranchers Bees, he was part of the squad that went all the way to the final under then coach Clemens Westerhof. Having registered on the radar of European clubs, the striker made the switch to Belgian football and Club Brugge, where he would stay between 1990 and 1994, scoring 35 goals in 81 games in the process.
Meanwhile the hard-running forward was busy cementing his place as part of a fearsome Nigerian attacking trident alongside Rashidi Yekini and Emmanuel Amunike, with the year 1994 turning out to be the most successful of Amokachi's career. Following on from the Super Eagles' win at the African Cup of Nations in Tunisia, Nigeria headed to the USA for the country's first ever appearance at a FIFA World Cup finals. Once there, Amokachi grabbed goals in the 3-0 and 2-0 group-stage wins over Bulgaria and Greece respectively, with Nigeria making it through to the Round of 16 where they went down 2-1 after extra time to a Roberto Baggio-inspired Italy.
The front-runner was then a key member of the side that thrilled the footballing world on the way to winning the Men's Olympic Football Tournament Atlanta 1996, though his international career was on the wane by the time France 1998 came around. Indeed, Amokachi played just 67 minutes on French soil, in a 1-0 group win over Bulgaria, one of the last of 42 senior caps for Nigeria which brought 14 goals and a host of memorable moments.
At club level, the player followed his time in Belgium with two seasons in the English game with Everton, the highlight being the Toffees' 1995 FA Cup success, before spending three years in Turkey with Besiktas. Ever more restricted by a knee injury, after brief spells in France and the United States Amokachi called time on his playing career and turned to coaching, with his most notable feat a second-place finish in the Nigerian Premier League with Nasarawa United in 2006.
He then worked as assistant to Nigeria supremo Shaibu Amodu as the Super Eagles qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and remained in the role under his successor Stephen Keshi. He is also a vocal campaigner for the continent's national teams to employ home-grown coaching staff, claiming that: "African coaches have the ability to succeed at the highest level".
Did You Know?
His most memorable moment in England came when he scored two late goals as a sub in the '95 FA Cup semi-final to help Everton beat Tottenham. He wasn't even meant to play, but when an injured player signalled to the bench that he was fine, Amokachi ignored him and went in anyway.
Minutes before the third group match at the 1998 World Cup, Amokachi suffered a knee injury and was pulled from the starting line-up against Paraguay. Though he had two surgeries and was briefly made captain of the Super Eagles the next year, the injury effectively ended his career peak.
Amokachi attended university in the USA where he was due to study law, but he left after a semester to play for Brugge. He much later made headlines for marrying a Tunisian model and even had a modeling career of his own at the end of his playing days.
Amokachi’s twin sons both had a trial with his former club Everton at the tail-end of 2009 -- in this case with the U-13 team. “They couldn’t believe that many years after I left the club, the fans still have not forgotten about me,” he said about the fond memories of most Toffees supporters.
Amokachi, who twice won the Ebony Boot for Best African Player in Belgium, was well-known for his nicknames. He was fondly called "The Bull,” “Amo” and at Everton “Amo-Taxi” for his bustling style of play. He reportedly had a large bull’s head statue at the entrance of his house in Nigeria.