Has Nigeria Ever Won The Fifa World Cup Peter Rufai – Nigeria’s Best Goalkeeper

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Peter Rufai – Nigeria’s Best Goalkeeper

The history of Nigerian football cannot be complete without mentioning the contribution of midfielder Peter Rufai. The 47-year-old former Stationary Stores of Lagos shot-stopper made history in 1986 when he became the first Nigerian goalkeeper to leave the country’s shores in pursuit of his professional career. He was signed by AS Dragon FC of Benin Republic.

The soft-spoken Rufai traveled widely after playing for Belgian teams – Lokeren and Beveren before a surprise move to Holland’s Go Ahead Eagles in 1993-1994 where he was selected for Nigeria’s 1994 African Nations Cup hosted by Tunisia. . He helped Nigeria lift the coveted trophy for the second time after losing to Zambia in the final.

His performance at the African Nations Cup earned him a call-up to the Nigerian team that played in the 1994 FIFA World Cup hosted by the United States of America. As the manager and keeper of the team, he was instrumental in ensuring Nigeria’s success in its first World Cup. The team reached the round of 16, before losing to the experienced Italians inspired by Roberto Baggio. The match eventually ended 2-1 in favor of the Italians.

Peter Rufai fondly called “Dodo Mayana” by his followers, returned to lead the Super Eagles in the 1998 FIFA World Cup held in Spain. He was unable to help the team get past the round of 16, where they were beaten by Denmark in a one-sided match played at the Stade de France. Dodo Mayana watched helplessly as the Danes put four goals behind him.

The game was the last to go to a major national team before calling it quits. His best performance was for the Spanish La Liga team- Deportivo La Coruna, where he made a name for himself despite being behind Cameroonian goalkeeper- Jacques Songo’o for two consecutive seasons.

Peter Rufai is currently based in Nigeria, where he organizes football clinics in selected cities to help find talented players. He will be fondly remembered as one of Nigeria’s greatest ever goalscorers, earning the respect of his teammates and the Confederation of African Football who named him CAF’s Top 10 Player of the Century. It is important to mention that Rufai is the only Nigerian Goalkeeper to be named by the African Football Confederation.

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