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‘I Will Never Forget This Day’ – Adepoju reminisces Nigeria’s historic World Cup debut

-Compiled by Saidu Abubakar, courtesy of

Mutiu Adepoju reveals that Nigeria’s World Cup debut against Bulgaria is one of his biggest moments as a footballer

The Super Eagles shrugged off threats from Cote d’Ivoire and Algeria to qualify for the competition for the first time – and were zoned in Group D against Argentina, Greece and Bulgaria.

Clemens Westerhof’s team made a winning start in the United States of America by defeating favorites Bulgaria 3-0, Dallas with Rasheed Yekini, Daniel Amokachi and Emmanuel Amuneke getting the goals at the Cotton Bowl Stadium.

In that encounter, former Real Madrid midfielder Adepoju was introduced in the game as a 69th-minute substitute for Samson Siasia.

Mutiu Adepoju

Sunday, June 21 marks the 26th anniversary of the country’s maiden appearance and their famous victory over the Europeans.

And to celebrate the occasion, the LaLiga ambassador took to social media to express his delight being a part of history.

“On this day 26 years ago, I made history with Nigeria to feature in the country’s maiden World Cup game,” Adepoju tweeted.

“The icing on the cake was a 3-0 victory over Bulgaria. This is no doubt one of the biggest highlights of my career as a footballer and I will never forget this day.”
Nigeria bowed 2-1 to Argentina at the Foxboro Stadium in the second game – with Claudio Caniggia’s brace cancelling out Samson Siasia’s opener after eight minutes.

Qualification for the next round was guaranteed following a 2-0 win against Greece which was made possible with Finidi George and Daniel Amokachi finding the net.

The Africans’ fairy tale run came to an end in the Round of 16 owing to a 2-1 defeat to eventual runners-up Italy. Amuneke handed Nigeria a 26th minute lead before Roberto Baggio levelled scores for the Europeans in the 89th minute. He completed his brace in the 101st via a resulting penalty kick from Augustine Eguavoen’s clumsy challenge on Antonio Benarrivo.

Adepoju who also starred for Racing Santander and Real Sociedad made the country’s squad to the 1998 and 2002 World Cups staged in France and South Korea and Japan respectively before drawing the curtain on his international career after 48 caps and six goals.