Super Falcons striker Desire Oparanozie, 29, announces her retirement from football


Super Falcons striker Desire Oparanozie on Wednesday brought an end to her illustrious career after she announced her retirement from both country and club football at the age of 29.

In a post on her X account, Oparanozie confirmed her football career was over.

She wrote, “To my fans, family, and friends, thank you for the show of love and support over the years. It’s time to take a bow, as I believe there’s no better time than now. I’m officially announcing my retirement from professional football for both club and country.

“To every team and coach I have played for, to every mate I’ve played alongside, and to every opponent I have played against, thank you all for being part of this incredible journey. Thank you football, thank you Nigeria.”

Before her retirement, Oparanozie made 35 appearances for the Super Falcons and scored 22 goals.

Former Falcons teammates Ashleigh Plumptre and Ngozi Okobi both sent her emotional messages.

“A true leader in all its forms. So grateful to have played alongside you and learned from your courage in always representing us and those who come after us. Big love to you always @oparanozie9,” Plumptre wrote.

Okobi added, “@desireoparanozie thank you and good luck in the future.”

Club career 

Born December 17, 1993, the Owerri-born striker started her football journey in the Nigerian Women’s League with Bayelsa Queens, before moving on to Delta Queens in 2010, from where her adventure to Europe began on loan to Turkey.

She then spent two months on loan at Düvenciler Lisesispor in the Turkish Women’s First Football League in 2011, before returning to parent club Delta Queens. She won the domestic topflight title twice in 2011 and 2012.

In 2012, she joined Rossiyanka in the Russian Women’s Football Championship and played four matches at the 2012/13 UEFA Women’s Champions League, scoring one goal.

Oparanozie then joined Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg for the 2013/14 season, signing a two-year contract. After half a season, she left Wolfsburg for Ataşehir Belediyespor February 21, 2014 to play the second half of the season in the Turkish Women’s First Football League, after failing to get game time in Germany.

For the 2014/15 season, she joined Guingamp in the French Division 1 Féminine, where she reignited her club career, scoring on a regular basis. She was named the club’s captain in 2019/20, but she joined Spanish side Dijon on a two-year deal June 30, 2020, this was after scoring a remarkable 45 league goals in 106 games for Guingamp.

After leaving Guingamp, a bus-stop was named after Oparanozie by her fans of the French side after her long stay at the club, as well as her goals contributions to the club.

At club level, Oparanozie last played for Chinese Women’s Super League club Wuhan Jianghan University for the 2022 season, before she bowed out after injuries ravaged the latter part of her career.

U-20 to WAFCON heroine

At international level, the forward represented Nigeria at U-17 and U-20 levels. She scored twice at the 2010 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany as the Falconets reached the final, losing 2-0 to the hosts, before scoring thrice to power the team to the semis at the 2012 edition in Japan.

Her brilliant performance earned her a call-up to the senior side and she didn’t disappoint as she scored crucial goals for the Falcons, including the winner at the 2016 WAFCON final against hostile hosts Cameroon at the packed Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde.

Oparanozie broke Cameroonian hearts with five minutes left, to help Nigeria retain their title.

In all, she scored 22 goals in 35 international appearances for the Falcons, winning four WAFCON titles, as well as winning the Golden Boot award at the 2014 edition, appearing at four Women’s World Cup (2011, 2015, 2019 and 2023). 


Beyond being a good footballer, Oparanozie is a leader on-and-off the pitch, a vociferous one who fought for her teammates. And this, the Nigerian officials didn’t like.

As captain, she led the team in a sit-in protest in Grenoble, France in June 2019 after the Falcons crashed out of the Women’s World Cup, over a backlog of unpaid bonuses and World Cup appearance fees.

She was also heavily involved during the Falcons 2016 protest at the National Assembly in Abuja, after winning the 10th edition of the African Women’s Championship in Cameroon.

Though the action cost her the captaincy role, the 29-year-old, in an interview with The PUNCH in 2021, said she never regretted her action.

“I think if they had any reason to pick another captain, that might have been the reason because that was what transpired in camp and if that is the reason, I’m proud of what I did, fighting for players that were no longer in camp. So, there is no problem.”


Following the protest in France, Oparanozie was not only stripped of her captain’s armband but was axed from the team.

Unsurprisingly, she was overlooked for the 2022 WAFCON in Morocco despite her impressive form that season, in which she was the fourth-ranked player with assists in the French league.

Her exclusion again raised eyebrows, with some stakeholders insisting she was sidelined following her part in previous protests over unpaid, and not for football reasons.

But Nigeria Football Federation’s Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire, in a reply to the backlash, said the four-time WAFCON winner’s exclusion had nothing to do with her role in the protest in France.

Recalled to the squad in 2023

March 22, the NFF released the names of players for the Falcons pre-World Cup friendlies in Turkey.

The biggest news, however, was the return of Oparanozie, who was then in the Chinese Women’s Super League with Wuhan Chegu Jianghan, after she had been frozen out of the side for close to four years.

Her invitation led to massive jubilation among the football faithful, with the player taking to social media to thank fans.

“The show of love and support I’ve received these past days has been incredibly overwhelming,” she wrote on her Twitter page.

“I’m thankful to every one of you for your genuine support. My best will be your reward.”

Sad end Down Under

Oparanozie featured in four Women’s World Cups but a lot of people will probably remember her last outing in Australia, where she featured in the round of 16 clash against England and missed a penalty in the shootout, as Nigeria exited the competition.


The Owerri-born retired striker will be remembered for her goals at club and country levels, no doubt, but off the pitch, her efforts in promoting the women’s game globally, as well as her role in the emancipation of the girl-child will linger in the memory.
~The Punch
Share on Google Plus

About Newsmart


Post a Comment