The Golden Eaglets won the inaugural edition of the tournament in China in 1985 when it was still an U-16 tournament. They defeated West Germany 2-0 in the final at the Workers Stadium in Beijing on 11 August 1985.
The team were made up of lads discovered at the YSFON and Academicals football competitions.
The team was captained by Nduka Ugbade and also had other talented players like Jonathan Akpoborie and Victor Igbinoba.
The iconic Golden Eaglets they were!
Nigeria finished as runners up to Soviet Union in the second edition of the tournament in Canada on penalties and it was a tournament that produced the diminutive and skillful Philip Osondu who emerged as the Best Player of the tournament.
Nothing of note has been heard of ‘Zanza’ as Osondu was nicknamed ever since.
Nigeria lost to Saudi Arabia 8-7 on penalties in the quarterfinals of the U-16 World Cup in Scotland after the game ended goalless in 90 minutes.
This team produced some of the finest talents in the tournament like Godwin Okpara, Victor Ikpeba, Precious Monye, Patrick Mancha, John Zaki, Andrew Aukhuomogbe.
The Eaglets were the 6th place team in the tournament.
Affectionately called the ‘Glamorous’ squad with a team of players the world instantly knew will be special in few years time.
Captained by Wilson Oruma, the Eaglets won all their matches with the lanky and supremely skillful Nwankwo Kanu emerging as the second best player behind Ghana’s Daniel Addo, who played for Italian side Torino then.
Kanu, Oruma alongside Celestine Babayaro made the MasterCard Best XI – albeit Karibe Ojigwe came close with great performances.
They defeated Ghana 2-1 in the final on 4 September 1993.
The tournament was hosted by Ecuador and the Eaglets hoping to defend their title failed to achieve that though they had few promising players like James Obiora, James Anyakghe, Henry Onwuzuluike, Henry Igwillo and Iginewari George.
The team lost 2-0 to Oman in the quarterfinals and finished in 7th place.
2001 (Trinidad & Tobago)
Nigeria returned to the tournament in 2001 after missing the 1997 and 1999 editions in Egypt and New Zealand.
The Eaglets were runners up finishing second to France that starred Florent Sinama Pingolle, top scorer with nine goals. The Eaglets lost 3-0 in the final.
Nigeria’s Femi Opabunmi scored five goals and was unarguably Nigeria’s best player in T&T.
A star was born in Finland 2003 as John Mikel Obi proved to be a shining comet despite Nigeria exiting the tournament in the group stages no thanks to a toss of coin after finishing their group matches with same points and other statistics with Costa Rica.
2007 (South Korea)
Nigeria won their third title at the tournament in South Korea with Macaulay Chrisantus the top scorer with seven goals.
The Eaglets defeated Spain on penalties in the final.
Nigeria hosted the tournament and paraded youngsters like Ramon Azeez, Kenneth Omeruo and Sani Emmanuel.
They romped to the final but were defeated by Switzerland that had in their ranks Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka and AC Milan’s left back Ricardo Rodriguez.
Kelechi Iheanacho (who was tournament’s MVP), Taiwo Awoniyi, Isaac Success were the Nigerian starlets at the tournament in UAE where they won the title for the fourth time in history.
Nigeria thrashed Mexico 3-0 in the final at the Ben Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi on 8 November with goals from E. Aguirre (own goal), Kelechi Iheanacho and Musa Muhammed.
Chile hosted two years later and unsurprisingly Nigeria retained the title – winning for a record fifth time.
Emmanuel Amunike’s team defeated fellow West Africans Mali 2-0 in the final with Victor Osimhen creating history as the top scorer of the 2015 tournament and since inception in 1985 with 10 goals in seven matches.