Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala: The Most Influential Nigerian Footballers of 2023

Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala have been crowned the Most Influential Nigerian Footballers of 2023

Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala: The Most Influential Nigerian Footballers of 2023

David Ben 17:45 - 10.12.2023

Osimhen and Oshoala's impact on and off the field in 2023 has positioned them as the most influential male and female Nigerian footballers of the year respectively.

In the dynamic world of football, where talent meets resilience, Super Eagles of Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen and Super Falcons forward Asisat Oshoala have emerged as the flag bearers of Nigerian soccer prowess in 2023.

 Their performances on the field, coupled with their impact off it, make them the most influential Nigerian footballers of 2023.

 From breaking records to inspiring a generation, Osimhen and Oshoala have become household names in the West African country, synonymous with excellence and paving the way for the future of Nigerian football.

Most Influential Nigerian Footballers of 2023
Most Influential Nigerian Footballers of 2023

Victor Osimhen is the Most Influential Nigerian Men’s Footballer Of 2023

Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen in action for Napoli (Photo Credit: Napoli/X)

Victor Osimhen's ascent in the footballing world has been nothing short of meteoric.

 The Lagos-born Napoli striker rose through the ranks, catching the attention of football enthusiasts worldwide.

 In 2023, Osimhen found himself at the forefront of Nigerian football, playing a pivotal role for both club and country.

The 2022-23 Serie A Golden Boot Winner led Napoli to a historic Scudetto title last season to seal his status as a true Partenopei legend.

Osimhen's standout performances with Napoli in Serie A have been a testament to his scoring prowess. 

His ability to find the back of the net with consistency has not only endeared him to Napoli fans but has also to some extent, elevated Nigeria's standing on the international stage. 

Osimhen celebrates after scoring two goals for Nigeria against Sierra Leone | Credit: IMAGO

Victor Osimhen had arguably one of the finest years ever by a Nigerian footballer, taking into account success at the highest level. Winning Serie A with Napoli, and being the team's top goal scorer in the process, cemented his reputation as one of the elite strikers in the sport. Already there are a plethora of firsts, and if he is eventually named CAF Player of the Year, he will extend that by becoming the first Nigerian to do it for over two decades. It is easy to see how he has come by his lofty standing, and his influence within not just the Nigerian footballing space but Africa's as a whole, is massive. - Solace Chukwu, Senior Editor, Pulse Sports.

Osimhen’s influence extends beyond goals, as he has become a role model for aspiring footballers in Nigeria, showcasing the possibilities that hard work and dedication can bring.

On the pitch, the 24-year-old Super Eagles star is known as the “masked assassin”, wrecking defences for fun in Europe.

Victor Osimhen is the most influential Nigerian men's footballer of 2023
Victor Osimhen is the most influential Nigerian men's footballer of 2023

Osimhen’s mask has become of huge significance in Italy with several fans young and old keen on copying the Nigerian’s famous looks on the pitch.

Osimhen mask
Osimhen's mask became a huge culture symbol in Naples

Off the pitch, Osimhen witnessed a significant boost in his social media following, notably on Instagram.

The Nigerian goal-machine saw a massive spike in his social media following from just over 813,000 followers in January 2023 to more than a whopping 3.2 million followers in December 2023 - the most amongst any Nigerian footballer (male and female) in 2023.

Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen won the AIC Player of the Season || Image credit: Imago

Despite not being the most-followed Nigerian footballer on Instagram, Osimhen boasts the most engagement on the popular social networking platform, averaging at least 300,000 likes on 94% of his posts on Meta’s platform, although, his comments section has been restricted for months.

Osimhen’s no.9 Jersey at Napoli in their 2022-23 title-winning season was one of the most purchased and in-demand football jerseys in Italy and Nigeria last season, with several football jersey sale outlets in Nigeria selling out Osimhen’s no.9 shirt for Napoli’s home kit as early as February 2023.

Although Osimhen's Napoli shirt did not outsell the Nigerian Nike 2022 Away Stadium shirt, the Napoli star is the Nigerian footballer who sold out the most shirts between September 2022 and May 2023.

Osimhen no.9 Napoli shirt for the 2022-23 season was one of the most in-demand memorabilias of 2023

Osimhen witnessed a massive rise in stocks on the transfer market as well with his market value rising to as much as €120 million as per Transfermrkt, surpassing the great Mohamed Salah, to become the most valuable African footballer in the world in 2023.

Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen helped Napoli to win their first Scudetto since 1990 | Credit: IMAGO

It’s no surprise a host of Europe’s elite are hot on his heels ahead of the 2023-24 Winter transfer window.

A contender for the2023 CAF (Confederation of African Football)  Player of the Year Awards, Osimhen would be hoping to add another plaque to his already impressive arsenal of individual accolades this year on Monday night, December 11, at the Movenpick Hotel in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Asisat Oshoala is the Most Influential Nigerian Women’s Footballer Of 2023

Asisat Oshoala
Asisat Oshoala in action for Barcelona Women || photo credit: Imago

On the women's side of the game, Asisat Oshoala has been a trailblazer, breaking barriers and setting new standards. 

The 29-year-old Lagos-born forward has unarguably been a beacon of success for Nigerian women's football, making waves in both domestic and international competitions. 

Playing for FC Barcelona Femení, Oshoala has been an integral part of the team's success, contributing goals and leadership on the pitch.

Injury may have ruled her out for the final, but Oshoala was influential in Barcelona's Women's Champions League triumph, one which affirmed their lopsided dominance in LaLiga. Fitness concerns also reduced her to one goal and a bit-part role at the World Cup, but her enduring skill and longevity have underpinned her continued relevance and influence. - Solace Chukwu, Senior Editor, Pulse Sports.

Oshoala's influence extends beyond her footballing ability.

 As an ambassador for women's football in Nigeria, she has been vocal about gender equality in sports, inspiring young girls to pursue their passion for football without constraints and constantly citing herself as a brilliant case study and testament to her cause.

‘Agba Baller’s’ achievements, including being named the African Women's Player of the Year multiple times, have not only brought personal acclaim but have also elevated Nigeria's standing in the global women's football landscape.

Asisat Oshoala
Asisat Oshoala is the most influential Nigerian women’s footballer of 2023

Already, the prolific striker and Super Falcons legend became the most-followed African female athlete on social media, following Nigeria’s impressive showing at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia/New Zealand.

Oshoala also broke into the list of most-followed Nigerian athletes on social media in 2023 - the only female Nigerian athlete to do so. As of December 2023, she is one of the most-followed female footballers in the world

She boasts the most engagement on her social media pages for any female athlete in Nigeria, and she is also the most followed Nigerian footballer on TikTok (both male and female).

Oshoala’s famous celebration after her crucial goal for the Super Falcons of Nigeria against The Matildas of Australia in the group stage of the 2023 FIFAWWC is one of the most iconic moments of 2023 in Nigerian sports.

Asisat Oshoala
Supersub Asisat Oshoala celebrates scoring for Nigeria against Australia. (Photo Credit: FIFAWWC/X)

Agba Baller’s viral celebration triggered widespread reactions on the internet and was a talking point for more than a week on social media as her name topped the trends table.

She is currently tipped to pick up a record sixth CAF Women’s Player of the Year Awards in Morocco, come Monday night, December 11 - a major swoop that  could no doubt further emphasise her status as the most successful Nigerian female footballer of the 21st century.

Off-Field Impact

Victor Osimhen Asisat Oshoala
Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala are the Most Influential Nigerian Footballers of 2023

Both Osimhen and Oshoala recognize the power of their platform and have actively used it to make a positive impact off the field.

Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen is consistent with giving back to the society as much as possible | Credit: X

 Osimhen has been involved in various philanthropic endeavours outside of football, constantly supporting initiatives that aim to improve the lives of underprivileged youth in Nigeria. 

Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen greets the headteacher of his alma mater | Credit: X

His commitment to giving back to the community has solidified his status as a footballer with a social conscience and has earned him plaudits amongst fans and supporters of the national team.

Similarly, Oshoala's advocacy for women's rights and empowerment has transcended the football pitch. 

She has been an ambassador for campaigns promoting education for girls and gender equality, using her influence to challenge societal norms.

Asisat Oshoala
The Asisat Oshoala Academy was launched in partnership with Nike & Women Win| Credit: Instagram

Agba Baller has also been praised for her contributions to society, having become a household name, her football academy which launched in September 2022 has quickly gained widespread prominence in Nigeria.

Super Zee's contributions have seen her receive multiple nominations, including the France Football 2023 Socrates Award.

Asisat Oshoala
Oshoala was nominated for the 2023 Socrates award in recognition of the Oshoala Academy which she launched in September 2022 | Credit: Instagram

In 2023, Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala stand as beacons of hope and inspiration for Nigerian football. 

Their performances on the field have brought joy to fans, while their off-field endeavours have demonstrated a commitment to making a positive impact on society. 

As influential ambassadors for Nigerian football, Osimhen and Oshoala are not only shaping the present but also laying the foundation for a brighter future for sports in Nigeria.


The Pulse Sports ranking of the most influential Nigerian footballers in 2023 is based on a calendar year total of factors such as contributions off the field, followers across major social media platforms, social media trends, social media growth and engagement, jersey and merchandise sales (between January and November).

The information is gathered from publicly accessible databases such as Facebook, Instagram, X, and TikTok, as well as conversations with industry insiders.