What happened to the history-making Golden Eaglets?

  • Nigeria won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2013 and 2015

  • We look at what some triumphant Golden Eaglets have gone on to achieve

  • One has become the most expensive African footballer in history

They were the back-to-back tournaments that catapulted Nigeria above Brazil and into the throne as the record five-time FIFA U-17 World Cup™ winners.

At UAE 2013, the Golden Eaglets averaged a staggering 3.7 goals per game en route to their fourth crown, before 3.3 per game propelled them to its defence at Chile 2015.

On the fifth anniversary of the latter’s final in Vina del Mar, we look at what five members of those prodigious classes have gone on to achieve.

Kelechi Iheanacho

The Taye Academy starlet struck four goals in Nigeria’s curtain-raising 6-1 win over Mexico, and was on target against the same opponents in a 3-0 victory in the UAE 2013 final. He finished UAE 2013 with six goals, seven assists, the adidas Silver Boot and adidas Golden Ball.

Iheanacho’s performances by the Arabian Peninsula left a who’s who of European giants vying for his signature. Manchester City seized it, but the striker found playing time tough to come by due to the presence of Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus – both of whom have starred at FIFA youth tournaments – so he joined Leicester City in 2017. Iheanacho has netted three goals and two assists in two starts in the UEFA Europa League this season.

The 24-year-old started Nigeria’s last two games at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ and has scored nine goals in 27 internationals overall.

Francis Uzoho

Despite only playing in goal for the first time when he was 12, at 14 he served as deputy to Dele Alampasu at UAE 2013.

Uzoho became, at 18 years and 352 days, the youngest-ever foreign goalkeeper to play in La Liga. After a few loan spells, he is now at APOEL in Cyprus.

The 6ft 5ins Nwangele native kept goal for Nigeria in all three of their matches at Russia 2018, keeping a clean sheet against Iceland and impressing against Lionel Messi and Argentina.

Kelechi Nwakali

The multifunctional midfielder, who hails from the same city as Nwankwo Kanu, Owerri, won the adidas Golden Ball at Chile 2015.

Nwakali joined Arsenal in 2016, but relocated to Huesca last year and helped them win promotion to La Liga. He represented Nigeria in a friendly against Atletico Madrid in May 2018, but despite scoring a spectacular goal did not make their squad for the following month’s World Cup.

Victor Osimhen

Osimhen hit ten goals at Chile 2015, breaking the nine-goal record for a FIFA U-17 World Cup shared by Florent Sinama Pongolle and Souleymane Coulibaly. The Ultimate Strikers Academy player also become the first champion to have scored in all his team’s matches.

Things didn’t work out for Osimhen at Wolfsburg, but in the colours of Lille he finished as the joint-fourth leading scorer in Ligue 1 last season, alongside Neymar and behind Moussa Dembele, Kylian Mbappe and leading marksman Wissam Ben Yedder.

The 21-year-old recently made a move to Napoli and scored his first goal for the club with a fine strike against Atalanta.

DId you know? The €70m Napoli paid Lille for Osimhen made him the most expensive African footballer in history, breaking the fee Manchester City paid Leicester City for Riyad Mahrez.

Samuel Chukwueze

The dazzling winger registered three goals, three assists and won the adidas Bronze Ball at Chile 2015.

Rapid and tricky, Chukwueze is known as ‘The Nigerian Robben’. He made a brilliant impact in his first two seasons at Villarreal, and scored in the Super Eagles’ 2-1 win over South Africa that sent them into last year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.

Did you know? When Chukwueze was a kid, his family urged him to stop neglecting his studies to play football, but he didn’t listen. Their reaction? “They burned my boots!” he said. “All my training gear, they burnt them too so I couldn’t play.”