No Nigerian international and Super Eagles Stars made the shortlist for the first ever U21 Ballon d’Or award, this sportinglife.ng can report.
Known as the Trophee Kopa, it is awarded to the best player under the age of 21 and is voted for by the 33 previous winners of the main Ballon d’Or prize – including Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Some of the A-list Super Eagles players that over the years have been actively involved in FIFA international tournaments who could have been on the shortlist include and not limited to;
Victor Osimhen who plays as a forward for Charleroi, on loan from VfL Wolfsburg. Osimhen, 19, was named to the squad of the Nigeria under-17 team that won the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile, where Osimhen won the Golden Boot and Silver Ball awards.
His performances also earned him the CAF Youth Player of the Year award in 2015. Osimhen made his senior debut for Nigeria in a 3–0 friendly win over Togo on 1 June 2017.
Kelechi Nwakali, 20-year old, is another Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for FC Porto B, on loan from Premier League club Arsenal but could not make the list for the Ballon d’Or prize award.
Another Nigerian national team young lad which could have made the list is the 19-year-old national team first choice goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, known simply as Francis at the Spanish club Elche CF on loan from Deportivo de La Coruña.
Uzoho represented Nigeria under-17s at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Aged only 14, he was an immediate backup to Dele Alampasu. In October 2017 Uzoho received his first call-up to the Nigerian senior squad. He made his full international debut on 14 November, replacing Daniel Akpeyi in a 4–2 friendly win against Argentina.
He was named in Nigeria’s 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. By that time he was considered Nigeria’s first-choice goalkeeper.
On the list are Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, Houssem Aouar – Lyon – 20, Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool – 20, Patrick Cutrone – AC Milan – 20, and Ritsu Doan – FC Groningen – 20.
Others include, Gianluigi Donnarumma – AC Milan – 19,,Amadou Haidara – RB Salzburg – 20, Justin Kluivert – Roma – 19, Kylian Mbappe – PSG – 19, Christian Pulisic – Borussia Dortmund – 20 and Rodrygo – Santos – 17.