Tijani Babangida

Tijani Babangida (born 25 September 1973) is a Nigerian former professional footballer, who played as a winger. Known for his pace, his playing style was sometimes compared to that of Marc Overmars.[3][1] Babangida spent the majority of his playing career at Ajax. Overall, he played in five countries on three continents. At club level, Babangida spent nine years in Netherlands, playing for VVV-Venlo, Roda JC Ajax, and Vitesse.[4] winning the Eredivisie plus KNVB Cup double with the latter side.

Tijani Babangida
Personal information
Full name Tijani Babangida
Date of birth (1973-09-25) 25 September 1973
Place of birth Kaduna, Nigeria
Height 1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)[1][2]
Position(s) Winger
Youth career
Arewa Textiles
1990–1991 Niger Tornadoes
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1991–1996 Roda JC 78 (26)
1991–1993 → VVV-Venlo (loan) 34 (19)
1996–2003 Ajax 77 (20)
2000–2001 → Gençlerbirliği (loan) 12 (2)
2001–2002 → Vitesse (loan) 14 (1)
2002–2003Al-Ittihad (loan) 5 (0)
2003–2004 Changchun Yatai 29 (8)
Total 249 (76)
National team
1994–2004 Nigeria 36 (5)
Representing  Nigeria
Men's Football
1996 AtlantaTeam Competition
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

He played over 30 games for his national side, including four at the 1998 World Cup in France. He participated in two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and won the 1996 Olympics with Nigeria. Babangida made his international debut in 1994. He lost his place in the squad right before the 2002 World Cup. After a two-year lay-off from international football, Babangida was recalled to the Nigeria team for the 2004 African Cup of Nations preparations in Tunisia.

Personal life

Babangida, sometimes nicknamed "TJ",[5] was born into a large family in the city of Kaduna in 1973. He was married to Rabah (now his ex), the sister of Daniel Amokachi's wife.[1] Two of his nine brothers, Ibrahim and Haruna are also footballers.[6] The former spent five years at Volendam, while the latter became the youngest ever player in the history of Spanish football to have a buy-out clause in his contract and the second youngest player to appear for FC Barcelona, when he made his debut in 1998 as a fifteen-year-old.[6][7][8] In 1996 Babangida acted in a commercial ad for ABN-AMRO in which he points out his hesitations about a contract of some sort. In 2004, Babangida signed a $2 million contract to bring new footballs to Nigeria.[9] The same year, he opened a shopping mall in Kaduna.[9] Upon retiring from professional football, Babangida has been working as a football agent.[10]

Club career

Early career

Babangida was born in Kaduna, Nigeria. In 1991, at the age of 17, he left local club Niger Tornadoes to sign with Dutch Eredivisie side Roda JC, after performing well at the 1991 All-Africa Games.[11] He was loaned out to Roda's league rivals VVV-Venlo until the end of the season.[12] Babangida made a total of six league appearances, scoring three times in the 1991–92 season.[13] Despite Venlo's relegation to Eerste Divisie,[14] Babangida remained at the club for another year.

Babangida received his breakthrough in the 1992–93 season as he scored 16 goals, helping Venlo to achieve promotion to Eredivisie.[13][15] The following season, Babangida returned to Roda, immediately becoming a first-team regular with the Kerkrade side. Babangida made a total of 29 league appearances for Roda that season, scoring 11 goals.[13]

Babangida spent two more seasons at Roda JC. Babangida's 10 league goals in 1995–96, made him the club's top scorer that season.[16] In 1995, Babangida made his European debut, scoring a goal in the UEFA Cup first-round win over Olimpija Ljubljana, Roda's first European campaign in five years. Roda went on to beat the Slovenian side 5–2 on aggregate, but lost to Benfica in the second round. Solid performances at both international and club level led to interest from Dutch side Ajax, as Louis van Gaal was looking to replace Babangida's compatriot Finidi George,[3] who had recently departed to Real Betis.


Babangida joined Ajax in the summer of 1996 in a long-anticipated €5 million move.[1] He appeared in 29 league games, scoring four goals in his first season with Ajax.[13] Babangida played an important role in Ajax's European campaign, scoring three goals, including one against Auxerre in the group stages,[17] and the winning goal in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League encounter with Atlético Madrid at the Vicente Calderón Stadium, that put Ajax through to the semi-finals of the competition.[18]

Babangida had a successful second season with the club as he helped Ajax to another Eredivisie title with a 39-point gap over PSV Eindhoven, while his 13 league goals in 26 games made him the club's third top scorer, behind Shota Arveladze and Jari Litmanen.[19] Ajax clinched the second title of the season with a 5–0 victory over PSV in the KNVB Cup final, with the Nigerian scoring the first goal.[1]

Babangida's fortunes started to change towards the end of 1998. Having missed the start of the season with malaria,[20] Babangida gradually lost his starting line-up position as Morten Olsen was looking to improve on the team's inconsistent performances both in the domestic league and in Europe. Babangida started two of his team's opening Champions League games.[1] The European season, however, ended in disappointment as Ajax finished bottom of their group behind Olympiacos, Dinamo Zagreb and Porto.[21] Overall, Babangida appeared in 18 league games for Ajax that season, starting only seven.[1] He didn't feature in the Dutch Cup final where Ajax managed to retain the trophy after beating Fortuna Sittard in the final.[1]

Babangida saw even less playing time after the 1999 season, as he made a mere eight appearances the following year and didn't play a single game in the first half of the 2000–01 season.[13] In an attempt to offload the player, Ajax came to an agreement with the Turkish Süper Lig side Gençlerbirliği, who signed Babangida on a half-year loan deal until the end of the season.[22]

Later career

The spell in Turkey, however, proved to be an unhappy time for Babangida and the Ankara side chose no to pursue their interest in the player once the loan deal expired.[5] Looking for a move away from Netherlands, Babangida came close to signing with AJ Auxerre, but received a last-minute call from Ronald Koeman and agreed to join him at Vitesse instead.[22] Another loan move followed. First team player under Koeman, Babangida subsequently lost his place in the starting line-up,[23] when Ronald Koeman left for Ajax and was replaced by Edward Sturing.[24]

He then signed a six-month loan deal with Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia in 2002, joining Bebeto and Titi Camara, but walked out of the team in November after disagreements with José Oscar Bernardi.[25][26][27] Looking to resolve the deadlock with Ajax, Babangida returned to Amsterdam to continue negotiating a termination of his contract with the club.[28] On 30 April 2003, three years since Babangida played his last game for the club, it was announced that both sides had come to an agreement and the player's contract was finally terminated.[29]

As a free agent, Babangida underwent a successful trial at Chinese side Tianjin Teda in the summer of 2003.[30] The move, however, was put off due to the outbreak of SARS in China,[31] and Babangida signed with the second-tier side Changchun Yatai shortly after.[32] His four goals in the second part of the season helped his team to the Jia B title and earned him a recall to the national team for their preparations for the 2004 African Cup of Nations.[33] Babangida scored four more goals for Yatai the following season before retiring in 2004.[34]

International career

Babangida received his first call-up to the senior Nigeria national team for a pre-World Cup friendly against Romania in 1994. He then played in a friendly against Georgia, but did not make the final squad for 1994 World Cup.[1]

Babangida's international chances were partly limited due to the fact that he often found himself behind Finidi George in the pecking order.[1] He played an important role in his team's Olympic triumph in Atlanta in 1996,[35] as Nigeria overcame tough resistance from Brazil and Argentina, packed with the likes of Dida, Roberto Carlos, Bebeto, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Hernan Crespo, Claudio López, Ariel Ortega and Diego Simeone among others.[36][37][38] Babangida took part in Nigeria's 1998 World Cup campaign, playing a total of 120 minutes as he started one game and came on as a sub in the other three. He scored his team's only goal in the second-round defeat to Denmark.[39] In January 2001, Babangida appeared in an exhibition game at the Yokohama International Stadium (known as the Nissan Stadium nowadays), playing for FIFA XI in a game against the unified team of Japan and South Korea.[40]

Babangida only made his African Nations Cup debut in 2000 as Nigeria withdrew from the 1996 edition in South Africa due to political reasons and missed out on 1998 African Cup of Nations through disqualification.[41][42] Babangida scored two spectacular goals against South Africa to put Nigeria through to the final against Cameroon, where they drew 2–2, before being narrowly defeated 3–4 on penalties.[43][44] He appeared in all of his team's five games, starting two.[42]

He then featured in Nigeria's run to the 2002 World Cup finals, scoring two important first-half goals against Ghana on the final day of the 2002 World Cup qualification, helping Nigeria seal the final African region World Cup berth.[45] Babangida played in all of his team's games at the 2002 Nations Cup, but was dropped ahead of the World Cup, alongside several other experienced players like Sunday Oliseh and Finidi George.[46] He was recalled to the national team for the pre-Nations Cup training camp in Faro, Portugal in 2004, but did not make the final squad, making the 2002 Cup of Nations his last major international tournament.[47]

Career statistics


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition:Source:[13]
Club Season League
VVV-Venlo (loan)1991–92Eredivisie63
1992–93Eerste Divisie2816
Total 3419
Total 7826
Total 7720
Gençlerbirliği (loan)2000–01Turkish First Football League122
Vitesse (loan)2001–02Eredivisie141
Al-Ittihad (loan)2002–03Saudi Premier League50
Changchun Yatai2003Jia-B League94
2004League One204
Total 298
Career total 24976


Appearances and goals by national team and year[13]
National teamYearAppsGoals
Nigeria 199420
Scores and results list Nigeria's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Babangida goal.
List of international goals scored by Tijani Babangida
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1.28 June 1998Stade de France, Saint-Denis Denmark1–41–41998 World Cup
2. 10 February 2000National Stadium, Lagos South Africa1–02–02000 African Cup of Nations
3. 2–0
4. 29 July 2001Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt Ghana2–03–02002 World Cup qualifier
5. 3–0


  • Summer Olympics: 1996
  • Eredivisie: 1997–98
  • KNVB Cup: 1997–98, 1998–99
  • Turkish Cup: 2000–01


  1. "Tijjani Babangida". NigerianPlayers. Archived from the original on 14 March 2007. Retrieved 6 September 2008.
  2. Tijani Babangida at National-Football-Teams.com
  3. "Robson poised to sign Porto keeper". The Independent. London. 5 June 1996. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  4. We spraken Tijani Babangida over mooie vrouwen, PES en Louis van Gaal vice.com
  5. "Babangida rules out Ajax return". BBC Sport. 2 April 2002. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  6. "Haruna Babangida". NigerianPlayers. Archived from the original on 11 December 2006. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  7. "Two debuts to remember". FC Barcelona official website. Archived from the original on 26 May 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  8. "Ibrahim Babangida". Voetbal international. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  9. "Babangida Seals $2m Deal". KickOffNigeria. Archived from the original on 26 January 2005. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  10. "Ukrainian club sign Dolphins duo". KickOffNigeria. Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  11. "Tijani Babangida". Eagles Profile. Archived from the original on 10 June 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2008.
  12. "Tijani Babangida". 123Football. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2008.
  13. "Tijani Babangida". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmermann. Retrieved 21 February 2008.
  14. "Netherlands 1991/92". RSSSF. Retrieved 21 February 2008.
  15. "Netherlands 1992/93". RSSSF. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
  16. "Roda JC 1995/96". Voetbal International. Archived from the original on 12 January 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2008.
  17. "Football: Fenerbahce stay alive with a late strike". The Independent. London. 21 November 1996. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  18. "Babangida Thrills Ajax". The Independent. London. 20 March 1997. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  19. "Eredivisie history". Eredivisie. Archived from the original on 8 October 2007. Retrieved 6 September 2008.
  20. "Nigerian and Ajax striker Babangida has malaria". World Soccer News. 24 July 1998. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  21. "UEFA Champions League 1998–99". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 November 2008.
  22. "Babangida optimistic". BBC Sport. BBC. 12 November 2001. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  23. "Vitesse Arnhem 2001–02 fixtures". ESPN Soccernet. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
  24. "Tijani Babandgida". Vitesseplanet. Archived from the original on 3 July 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  25. "Mido's tip sends Tijjani Babangida to Saudis Al-Ittihad". MiddleEastFootball. Archived from the original on 12 October 2002. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  26. "Babangida wants permission to leave Al-Ittihad". MiddleEastFootball. Archived from the original on 27 November 2002. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  27. Lyttleton, Ben (2 February 2003). "Camara hammers the boss". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  28. "Babangida Returns to Ajax". AllAfrica.com. 5 February 2003. Retrieved 26 November 2011. (registration required)
  29. "Ajax en Babangida definitief uit elkaar" (in Dutch). Voetbal International. 29 April 2003. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  30. "Chinese First Division Side Likely to Land Babangida". People's Daily. Archived from the original on 25 November 2003. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  31. "Babangida close to China deal". KickOffNigeria. Archived from the original on 6 May 2006. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  32. "Changchun Yatai (2003)". National Football Teams. Retrieved 16 November 2008.
  33. "China 2003". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  34. "China 2004". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 29 September 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  35. Babalola, Taofeek (30 May 2008). "Holland no threat to Dream Team IV —Babangida". The Nation. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  36. "Nigeria defeats Argentina for gold". USA Today. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  37. "Nigeria – Brazil". FIFA. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  38. "Nigeria – Argentina". FIFA. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  39. "Top goals". FIFA. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  40. "FIFA XI Matches". RSSSF. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  41. "History of African Nations cup since 1957". Egypt State Information Service. Archived from the original on 18 November 2008. Retrieved 16 November 2008.
  42. "African Nations Cup 2000 – Final Tournament Details". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  43. "Semi–final success unites Nigeria". BBC Sport. British Broadcasting Corporation. 11 February 2000. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  44. "Cameroon are Kings of Africa". BBC Sport. British Broadcasting Corporation. 13 February 2000. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  45. Asand, Albert (30 July 2001). "Football: Nigeria win ticket to World Cup". The Independent. London. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  46. "Oliseh's Nigerian future uncertain". BBC Sport. 28 March 2002. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
  47. "Babangida, Ikedia Hit Camp". Nigerian News Radio. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2008.

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.