Benedict Iroha

Nigerian footballer

Benedict "Ben" Iroha (born 29 November 1969) is a Nigerian former professional association football player who played as a left-back or left midfielder. Considered to be one of the best left defenders in African football. He was renowned for his strong left foot, he was a great man-marker that made him capable of stealing every ball from opponents.

Benedict Iroha
Personal information
Date of birth (1969-11-29) 29 November 1969 (age 54)
Place of birth Aba, Nigeria
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Position(s) Left-back, left midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1987–1990 Bendel Insurance 178 (2)
1990–1991 Iwuanyanwu Nationale 37 (2)
1991–1992 ASEC Mimosas 30 (1)
1992–1996 Vitesse Arnhem 121 (1)
1996–1997 San Jose Clash 33 (2)
1997 D.C. United 17 (4)
1997–1998 Elche 1 (0)
1998–2000 Watford 10 (0)
Total 427 (12)
National team
1990–1998 Nigeria 50 (1)
Teams managed
2000–2006 FC Dallas (Youth Coach)
2007 Nigeria U-17 (assistant coach)
2007–2008 Dolphins FC
2009–2010 Heartland F.C. (Chief Trainer)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Club career


Iroha started his career in Nigeria, he joined Bendel Insurance in 1987. He scored the first ever goal in the newly professional Nigerian league in 1990 for Iwuanyanwu Nationale, who went on to win the league that year.[1]

Iroha was originally a midfielder before national coach Clemens Westerhof converted him to play left back. His club career in Europe was largely unsuccessful, and Iroha was allocated to San Jose Clash in 1996. Iroha ended up playing in the inaugural MLS match against D.C. United, and is credited with the league's first-ever assist.[2][3] The next season, he was traded to D.C. United, where he won the league title but was dropped to comply with salary restrictions. He entered negotiations with the team to re-sign his contract, but they were halted after Iroha was called up to the World Cup squad for Nigeria.[4] After a move to Spanish side Elche CF in 1997, he moved to Watford in December 1998, playing ten games for the Hertfordshire side. A problem with bunions forced him to the sidelines, and he retired in March 2000.

International career


In 1990, Iroha joined the first Nigeria national team, being called up for the 1990 African Cup of Nations. He was then reclassified by coach Clemens Westerhof from left midfielder to left defender. However, in the first match against the hosts, Algeria, he did not perform well in this position and Nigeria suffered a 5:1 defeat. Over time, the game of the "Super Eagles" got better and better and they reached the final, where they lost to Algeria again, this time 0:1. However, Iroha did not play in the final match because he suffered an injury halfway through the tournament.

In 1994, Iroha again played in the African Cup of Nations tournament. He has already played in all matches of his national team in Tunisia. In the semi-final match against the Ivory Coast team, he scored the equalizing goal in the 26th minute. Ultimately, after 120 minutes, the match ended in a 2-2 draw, and the Nigerians won in a penalty shootout. Iroha also played in the final match against Zambia, which Nigeria won 2-1 and became African champions. After this tournament, Iroha was voted the best left defender in Africa. In the same year, he was called up by Westerhof to the team for the 1994 World Championships in the USA. There he played in the match against Bulgaria (3-0), but during the match he suffered a groin injury. He played in the match until the final whistle, but the injury turned out to be so serious that it eliminated him from the game until the end of the tournament. His place was taken by Michael Emenalo, who, however, did not play as impressively as Benedict. Nigeria was ultimately eliminated in the round of 16 after a 1-2 defeat against Italy.

In 1998, Iroha won his second World Championship tournament in 1998. However, at the Championships in France, he was only a substitute for Celestine Babayaro and played only in the group match against Paraguay (1:3), in which he received a yellow card. Also in this tournament, Nigeria finished its participation in the 1/8 finals.

Iroha made 50 appearances and scored 1 goal for the Nigeria national team.

Coaching career


After retiring, he returned to the US to coach in the youth department of FC Dallas. Most recently, he was an assistant with the Nigerian U-17 team that won the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup and head coach of Nigeria's Dolphins FC. Iroha is on the staff of Heartland of Owerri.


  • Nigerian Championship: 1990 with Iwuanyanwu Nationale
  • Ivory Coast Championship: 1991, 1992 with ASEC
  • Ivory Coast Cup: 1992 with ASEC
  • MLS Championship: 1997 with Washington DC



Other websites



  1. Solaja, Kunle (12 May 2018). "NIGERIA PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE CLOCKS 28". Sports Village Square. Archived from the original on 7 August 2019. Retrieved 30 April 2024.
  2. "MLS celebrates 20th anniversary of DC United v San Jose". 1 April 2016.
  3. "Watch the first-ever MLS Match: San Jose Clash vs D.C. United". MLS. 6 April 2016. Archived from the original on 10 August 2019. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  4. Goff, Steven (June 1, 1998). "Iroha Called Up By Nigeria; United Was Seeking To Acquire Player". The Washington Post. p. D10.