Retired Nigerian footballer Tijani Babangida was born on September 25, 1973 in Kaduna, Nigeria. He played as a winger and is popularly known for his pace and his playing style which was sometimes compared to that of Marc Overmars.
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At the age of 17, he left local club Niger Tornadoes to sign with Dutch Eredivisie side Roda JC, after performing well at the 1991 All-Africa Games. Babangida received his breakthrough in the 1992–93 season as he scored 16 goals, helping Venlo to achieve promotion to Eredivisie.
Babangida spent the majority of his playing career at Ajax. Overall, he played in five different countries on three different continents. At club level, Babangida spent nine years in Netherlands, playing for VVV-Venlo, Roda JC and Ajax, winning the Eredivisie plus KNVB Cup double with the latter side. In 2002, he signed a six-month loan deal with Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia but walked out of the team in November after disagreements with José Oscar Bernardi. He was loaned to several clubs from Ajax but finally on April 30, 2003, his contract with the club was finally terminated.
Afterwards, Babangida underwent a successful trial at Chinese side Tianjin Teda in the summer of 2003 but the move was put off due to the outbreak of SARS in China. Later, he signed with the second-tier side Changchun Yatai and scored four more goals for Yatai the following season before retiring in 2004.
Babangida first played for the senior Nigeria national team for a pre-World Cup friendly against Romania in 1994. He then played in a friendly against Georgia, but did not make the final squad for 1994 World Cup. He also played in the 1996 Olympic competition in Atlanta, 1998 World Cup tournament and in January 2001, he appeared in an exhibition game at the Yokohama International Stadium (known as the Nissan Stadium nowadays). Babangida only made his African Nations Cup debut in 2000 as Nigeria withdrew from the 1996 edition in South Africa due to political reasons and missed out on 1998 African Cup of Nations through disqualification.
Featured in Nigeria’s run to the 2002 World Cup finals and helped Nigeria seal the final African region World Cup berth. Babangida played in all of his team’s games at the 2002 Nations Cup, but was dropped ahead of the World Cup, alongside several other experienced players like Sunday Oliseh and Finidi George. He was recalled to the national team for the pre-Nations Cup training camp in Faro, Portugal in 2004, but did not make the final squad.
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He was married to Rabah, the sister of Daniel Amokachi’s wife. Two of his brothers, Ibrahim and Haruna are also footballers.
In 1996 Babangida acted in a commercial add for ABN-AMRO in which he points out his hesitations about a contract of some sort. In 2004, he signed a $2 million contract to bring new footballs to Nigeria. That same year, he opened a shopping mall in Kaduna. He is currently working as a football agent.