February, 24 2023.
Credit: Wale Ajayi.
The business of football comes with daily transactions on and off the pitch.
While the key actors, that is, the footballers battle day and night for fame and wealth, the clubs, do their own business in the background, looking for sponsors or negotiating the next big transfers.
Most transfers comes after months or even years of scouting and there is always a third party in most cases who stands in for the players at the negotiation stage.
In years gone by, one of the most respected football agents to come out of Nigeria, is a certain John Ola Shittu, who took the football world by storm with the sale of John Obi Mikel to Manchester United and later Chelsea within a spate of a few weeks. Shittu made megabucks from that singular business, a deal that esterblished him as one of Africa's best talent spotter.
After Shittu, a few other Nigerians have made headlines in their own right with the sale of emerging and esterblished football stars to top European, African, Asian and South American clubsides.
Today, NSM Media will attempt to highlight the top five football agents in Nigeria based on pedigree, performance and results in the last 3years.
1. Hajji Gafar
This Badagry born chairman and finacier of Lagos based 36LION football club, stands out amongst his contemporaries as the shinning light in today's football business. Renowned for the role he played in the sale of Nigerian internationals like Ezekiel Imoh, Junior Ajayi, Peter Olayinka and the rest to top European and African clubsides, Gafar is more than a football intermediary. His international connect is second to none. No wonder, he played a bit part role in the deal that took Victor Osimhen from Lille Metropol of France to Napoli of Italy and Sunusi Mohammed from Nasarawa United of Lafia to Montreal impact football club of Canada.
From January 2022 and now, Gafar has been directly or indirectly involved in the sale of over 20 footballers within and outside Africa and is not looking like stopping anytime soon.
2. Churchill Oliseh
After setting up his pet project the FC Ebedei academy, which later metamorphosed into an amateur clubside renowned for identifying budding Nigeria talents and exporting them abroad for cash.
FC Ebedei came into limelight in 1998, but the actual events that led to its formation came as far back as 1993. The president and founder of the club, Barrister Churchill Oliseh, had ventured into players’ representation as a legal practitioner and an astute sports businessman, one of the few successful ones in in Nigeria as at then.
He succeeded in having a very strong link in Denmark, especially FC Midtjylland, a top Danish club, reputed for snapping up intelligent Nigerian footballers at very young age, before selling them to top European clubsides.
Two of his biggest transactions till date were recorded in the sale of Nigeria internationals, Paul Onuachu who is now with Southampton and Frank Onyeka who plies his trade at Brentford football club of England
3. Nureni Makanjuola
Nureni Makanjuala popularly called MK by his admirers is the owner and finacier of Water FC Academy, an academy notorious for discovering most of Abuja's finest football talents.
Mk has been in this business for over one decades but got his first major breakthrough with the sale of Babatunde Michael, a player who shone like a million stars at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Micheal got injured at some point in that competition but his exploits in Brazil helped facilitate a big money move to Raja Casablanca of Morocco.
Apart from Michael, another Super Eagles invitee, Okechukwu Gabriel also once played for Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.
The likes of Emeka Chinonso and Oladoye Adewale who only recently joined Gent, a first division clubside in Belgium, are also products of Water FC Academy
4. GBS Academy Jos, Plateau State
Coach Bros, owner and financier of the famous GBS Academy in Jos Plateau state, is unaguably one of the best football agents in the land today. He's calm, cool and always calculated. He goes about his job with the intelligence of Jorge Mendez and the meekness of the late Mino Raiola.
He has combed the city of Jos and environs for the best football talents available and today, he has over 50 talented footballers scattered across Europe and Asia. The GBS Academy in Bukuru, Jos, is the breeding ground for talents. Current Super Eagles Captain, Ahmed Musa was discovered by coach Bros and in appreciation of his impact in his life, Musa only recently named his child after the man who is worshipped in Plateau state and rose to position of technical director at Plateau United
5. Ayi Mohammed (Ikon Allah)
Ali Mohammed, the chief executive officer of Ikon Allah Academy, is a man with Eagle eyes, he has a reputation for discovering Super talents, many of whom have moved on from their humble beginning to stardom in Europe, North and South America and even here on the continent of Africa.
Super Eagles winger, Chidera Ejuke who is gradually becoming a household name in the National team, was first discovered by the owner of Ikon Allah Academy, from where he made his inroads into European football.
Like Ejuke, over 20 players of Ikon Allah Academy have found their way into Europe and North Africa in the last three years. Just three weeks ago, the club sold four more players outside the shores of Nigeria while six more have been penciled down for Summer tranfers.
Ikon Allah Academy has a rich reputation, as one of the best football academies in Northern Nigeria. The organizational and administrative framework of this club, is second to none. Their players rank amongst the very best in football academies in Nigeria, no wonder, National team coaches are always running Cap in Hands to this Academy, in search of the next big talent in Nigeria football.