5 Greatest Nigerians to Play in Serie A, From Victor Osimhen to Taribo West

5 Greatest Nigerians to Play in Serie A, From Victor Osimhen to Taribo West

Edwin Kiplagat
February 19, 2024 at 2:03 PM
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  • Nigerian footballers are thriving in Europe's top leagues
  • Victor Osimhen is carrying the Nigerian flag in the Serie A
  • Many Nigerian players have played in the Italian league

In the last few decades, Nigeria has produced incredible footballers, who have represented some of the top clubs in Europe.

In the Serie A, Nigerian footballers have thrived for years and continue to do so.

Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen, led the Partenopei to their first Serie A crown in 33 years last season, etching his name in the club's history books.

Victor Osimhen, Taribo West, Nigeria, Serie A, Super Eagles, Inter Milan, Napoli
Victor Osimhen and Taribo West are two of Nigeria's best players of all time. Photos by Francesco Pecoraro and Matthew Ashton/EMPICS.
Source: Getty Images

After his heroics last season at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, Osimhen, became arguably the greatest Nigerian footballer to ever play in the Italian league.

There were some elite players from the three-time AFCON champions to play in Italy. Here are the top 5.

Top 5 Nigerians to play in Serie A

Honourable mentions: Sunday Oliseh, Taye Taiwo, Victor Moses, Ogenyi Onazi.

5. Simeon 'Simy' Nwankwo - Crotone, Salernitana

The striker has gone under the radar because he didn't get to play for some of Serie A's top sides. Simy put together a solid Serie A and B career, especially with Crotone. The 31-year-old has scored 32 goals in Serie A and 35 in Serie B.

66 of his 113 career goals came in Crotone colours. In the 2020/21 season, Simy scored 20 Serie A goals, which saw him finish 6th in the scoring charts, behind the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku. He surpassed records set by Obafemi Martins and Yakubu's Aiyegbeni.

4. Nwankwo Kanu - Inter Milan

Kanu is always remembered for his time in England, especially with Arsenal and Portsmouth, and rightly so. He played just 20 matches for Inter Milan and could've had a bigger impact were it not for the diagnosis of a heart issue.

He was part of the team that won the UEFA Cup in 1998.

3. Taribo West - Inter Milan, AC Milan

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry recently said West was his toughest opponent. You are in the big leagues when one of the greatest strikers of all time name-drops you. Mind you, he faced the likes of Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro, Carles Puyol, and Jaap Stam. After leaving Auxerre, he went to Italy to play for Inter Milan and AC Milan.

He won the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan in the 1997/98 season. The defender had one of the most recognizable hairstyles in the 1990s.

Taribo West, Dwight Yorke, Inter Milan, Nigeria, Manchester United
Inter Milan's Taribo West and Manchester United's Dwight Yorke chase a loose ball. Photo by Matthew Ashton/EMPICS.
Source: Getty Images

2. Obafemi Martins - Inter Milan, Reggiana

The striker moved to Italy at 16 and played for Reggiana before joining Inter Milan. At the club, he won the 2005/06 Serie A title, two Italian Cups, and one Italian Supercup.

He bagged 49 goals in 136 appearances in four seasons at the club. After leaving Italy, he went on to thrive in the Premier League with Newcastle United. He retired in 2021 after scoring 183 goals.

1. Victor Osimhen - Napoli

The 25-year-old joined Napoli in 2020 from Lille and has scored 67 goals in 119 appearances so far. His performances earned him the 2023 African Footballer of the Year award. In May 2023, he became the African top scorer in Serie A history, per BBC.

He became the first African to win the Serie A Golden Boot for the 2022/23 season, in which he scored 26 goals, per Transfermarkt. Furthermore, those goals led Napoli to their first league title in 33 years. These achievements make him the best Nigerian to play in the Serie A.

Osimhen wins Serie A Golden Boot

Sports Brief earlier reported on Osimhen winning the Serie A Golden Boot for the 2022/23 season with Napoli.

The 24-year-old found the back of the net 26 times in 32 league appearances to scoop the award.

The Super Eagles superstar became the first-ever African player to win the Golden Boot in Serie A.

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Edwin Kiplagat
Edwin Kiplagat has five years of experience in journalism working as a Sports Editor at Africa Insight Communications and ESPN. Edwin Kiplagat is a Bachelor's Degree holder in journalism from the Multimedia University of Kenya.