September 14, (THEWILL) – Every year on September 14, the football world celebrates the birthday of Nigerian player and manager, Sunday Oliseh, remembered by football fans for one of the most iconic goals in World Cup history.
Oliseh made his debut for the Super Eagles in a 1993 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Ethiopia, before playing a significant role in Nigeria’s AFCON triumph in Tunisia the following year. He was also part of the squad that qualified Nigeria for her first World Cup appearance in 1994.
The official account of the FIFA World Cup on Twitter kept the birthday felicitation tradition alive with a tweet that commemorated the renowned midfielder’s birth, with a direct quote from Oliseh and a picture of the player celebrating a goal in the green and white of the Nigerian Super Eagles.
The post, via the @FIFAWorldCup account, began with this quote from Oliseh about his World Cup exploits and unforgettable goal against Spain: “The fact that it cemented my family’s name in the history of world football, it couldn’t be better.”
The tweet continued with an emoji of the Nigerian flag and the words: “He is the scorer of that memorable goal which helped Nigeria to a famous #WorldCup win over Spain in 1998. It’s time to wish @SundayOOliseh a very Happy Birthday”
As one of the most distinguished of Nigeria’s football players in what is often regarded as the Golden Age of the country’s football pedigree, Oliseh was part of the Dream Team that won gold in the football event of the Atlanta 1996 Olympics.
Of all of his international accomplishments, the first one that pops up in the mind upon mentioning his name is Oliseh’s most iconic moment for the Super Eagles, the same momentous occasion the FIFA account mentioned.
It was at the 1998 World Cup in the group stage game against favourites Spain. At about the 78th minute, after two goals each for Nigeria and Spain, Andoni Zubizarreta, the Spanish keeper who had scored an own-goal under pressure, could do nothing about a winning strike from distance that Oliseh whipped with power and precision to give the Super Eagles one of the biggest upsets in the competition.
The midfielder also found some success at the club level. He was in the winning bracket in some of Europe’s top sides, taking the Eredivisie title and the KNVB Cup with Ajax in the 1997/1998 season, the UEFA Intertoto Cup with Juventus in 1999, the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund in the 2001/2002 campaign while finishing as runner-up in the UEFA Cup that same year with Dortmund.
He also played for sides like RC Liège, where his foreign professional career began, Reggiana, FC Cologne, VFL Bochum and Genk, where he retired.
Upon retiring, Oliseh remained in the football fold by moving into management and punditry. For a brief period between 2015 and 2016, Oliseh was appointed by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) as the national team chief coach of the Super Eagles.
As short as it was, Oliseh scored an impressive record with his team registering 12 wins in 14 games, conceding only six times while scoring 14 goals for an average of a goal a game.
However, he resigned his appointment after barely eight months into his stay as manager, citing contract violations, lack of support, unpaid wages and benefits to his players, his assistant coaches and himself.