GK: Theophilus Afelokhai
This was an easy choice.
Afelokhai may have been ignored by Super Eagles’ selectors, but he is without any doubt the best goalkeeper to have featured in the Nigeria elite division in the last decade.
Composed, imposing and blessed with good reflexes, the 31-year-old enjoyed a trophy-laden decade, winning four league titles (three at Kano Pillars and one with Enyimba).
His best achievement on the international scene is a second-placed finish with Nigeria at the 2018 African Nations Championship in Morocco.
Afelokhai saved three penalties in Enyimba’s defeat of Etoile du Sahel in the Caf Champions League in 2016, his finest moment in the previous decade.
- Photo by Olumide Amos
RB: Solomon Kwambe
Having shot into limelight as player with Plateau United in 2010, the right-back went on to spend two years in Jos before leaving for Sunshine Stars in 2012.
Kwambe was the ideal of consistency on the right side of the back four under Gbenga Ogunbote and Henry Abiodun in Akure.
His performance caught the eye of Stephen Keshi who included Kwambe in his squad for the 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup, before the 2014 African Nations Championship where the Super Eagles finished third.
Now with Lobi Stars after a short stint at Warri Wolves, the 26-year-old has 37 Nigeria caps to show for a productive decade in the country’s elite division.
- GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
CB: Azubuike Egwuekwe
He may have left Warri Wolves under tricky circumstances, but Egwuekwe was a near constant in the heart of Warri Wolves' backline for half of the past decade.
Despite leading the team to three Caf Confederation Cup outings (2010, 2012, 2014), the ‘man mountain’ hardly recorded domestic success, but what underpins his inclusion in his industry in the field and how he nullified the best attackers in the NPFL with his towering height.
At international level, he cemented his place in the Super Eagles under Keshi following his goal in Nigeria’s 1-1 World Cup qualification game against Malawi at the Kamuzu Stadium.
Also, he won the 2013 African Cup of Nations, featured in 2013 Confederations Cup, won bronze at the 2014 CHAN, before going on to feature at 2014 World Cup as an NPFL player – a testament to his enduring quality.
CB: Godfrey Oboabona
Oboabona’s rise to prominence last decade was magnificent, having joined Sunshine Stars as a teenager after a brief spell with Rising Stars Football Academy.
At 19, he captained Sunshine Stars to the last four of the 2011 Caf Confederation Cup. He was also key in the Owena Whales’ Caf Champions League semi-final showing - scoring his only goal via the penalty spot against Anglola’s Recreativo do Libolo.
Aerially dominant, and strong at set pieces, Oboabona played a huge role in Nigeria’s 2013 Afcon feat and went ahead to marshal the Super Eagles’ defence at the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 Fifa World Cup.
LB: Francis Benjamin
One of the best left-footed defender of his generation, Benjamin lit up the Dan Anyiam Stadium during his three-year stay at Heartland.
Having helped the Naze Millionaires win the Federation Cup on his debut season, the full-back became one of the club’s most influential players, playing in a number of roles.
Benjamin’s talent did not go unnoticed by national team selectors as he featured at the 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup and 2014 African Nations Championship.
CM: Tamen Medrano
Perhaps the best foreigner in the NPFL during the 2010s, Medrano is a special talent, as the pivot of the Sunshine Stars team that reached the semi-final of the 2011 Caf Confederation Cup and 2012 Caf Champions League.
Although the Owena Whales did not win any title of note in the 2010s, their notable moments would not be complete without the Cameroonian, who spent five seasons in Akure.
Even when he left Sunshine Stars for FC Ifeanyi Ubah, he kept tormenting oppositions with clever movement, deft touches and glossy skills.
CM: Rabiu Ali
Rabiu Ali won the Nigeria top flight football crown three times in the last decade, while leading Kano Pillars to their first Federation Cup triumph in 2019 after victory over Niger Tornadoes on penalties.
In terms of talent, the 39-year-old is the best midfielder ever to play for Sai Masu Gida; an accolade beyond debate.
Six of his 11 senior national appearances are from two African Nations Championship outings, where he boasts of a bronze and a silver medal.
- Getty Images
CAM: Sunday Mba
Mba is definitely Nigeria’s biggest discovery of the 2010s as he almost single-handedly won the country the 2013 Afcon in South Africa.
His goal against the Cote d’Ivoire in the quarter-final brought him to limelight before netting the only strike against Burkina Faso in the final.
Mba might have featured for just three seasons in the NPFL during the last decade, but his career was, without doubt, a success.
FW: Gambo Mohammed
This is a selection that some may question, but Gambo developed into one of the best strikers in the NPFL during his time at Kano Pillars.
The striker helped Sai Masu Gida win two Nigerian top flight titles in the 2010s, as his 15 goals in the 2011-2012 league season earned him a call-up by Samson Siasia for Nigeria’s World Cup qualification against Kenya.
Keshi could not resist his talent, and he was picked for the 2013 Confederation Cup in Brazil. Gambo was also a man for the big occasion, scoring numerous goals in important games.
He may not have hit the heights some predicted when he broke through as a teenager, but he still had an excellent career at the Sani Abacha Stadium.
FW: Junior Lokosa
What an impact Lokosa had at Kano Pillars following his move from First Bank and he became fans’ favourite on account of his speed and goals.
Before his failed trials with Bulgaria’s Ludogorets and Norway’s Brann, the dreadlock-wearing forward had netted 14 goals in 15 league outings.
Upon his return, he emerged as the league's top scorer with 19 goals – which earned him a call-up to Super Eagles’ provisional squad for the 2018 World Cup Russia.
In 2019, he joined Esperance, where he won the Caf Champions League in his debut season to cap an impressive decade.
FW: Mfon Udoh
Udoh is the most talented striker to have featured in the NPFL in the last decade, as he brought back memories of Joetex Frimpong with his knack for goalscoring.
Aside from getting the goals, fans were always entertained watching him torment opposing defenders.
In the 2013-14 season, he emerged as the league's top scorer with 23 goals before waiting for five years to share the honours with Nasarawa United’s Sunusi Ibrahim.
Udoh not only scores goals, he boasts of one league diadem and two Federation Cup titles as well.