Top 5 Nigerians to Play in La Liga, From Ikechukwu Uche to Finidi George

Top 5 Nigerians to Play in La Liga, From Ikechukwu Uche to Finidi George

Edwin Kiplagat
February 22, 2024 at 10:20 AM
In this article:
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SPA La Liga
  • La Liga and Nigeria share a strong and long relationship
  • Nigerian players have graced the league since the 1980s
  • There's a long list of Nigerian stars who featured in Spain

Nigerian footballers have taken European football by storm in the last few decades.

Some of the best players from the three-time AFCON champions have left a lasting impact on clubs across Europe's top five leagues.

Nigerians continue to showcase their talents in La Liga, emulating legends such as Emmanuel Amuneke and Mutiu Adepoju.

Finidi George, Ikechukwu Uche, Samwel Okunowo, Christopher Ohen, Nigeria, La Liga
Ikechukwu Uche and Finidi George played in La Liga in different eras. Photos by Jaime Reina and Matthew Ashton/EMPICS.
Source: Getty Images

Nduka Ugbade arrived in Spain in the late 1980s, opening doors for many Nigerians to play in the league. By the mid-1990s, La Liga had some of the greatest Nigerian players ever.

Samuel Okunowo remains the only Nigerian to win La Liga. He did so with Barcelona in the 1998/99 season. Those who didn't manage to lift the title scored important goals and left important legacies.

Top 5 Nigerians to play in La Liga

Honourable mentions: Rashidi Yekini, Obafemi Martins, Michael Emenalo, Abass Lawal, Nosa Igiebor, Ramon Azeez, Kalu Uche, Haruna Babangida, Macauley Chrisantus, Odion Ighalo, Peter Rufai, Wilfred Agbonavbare.

6. Emmanuel Amuneke - Barcelona

The 1994 AFCON hero is one player who can say they played for Barcelona. The winger played 26 times for Barcelona and scored once. A serious injury saw his spell at the club come to an end.

5. Christopher Ohen - Compostela

Few Nigerians remember Ohen. He was a phenomenal goal-scorer, and he made his name in Spain. In 105 appearances in the league, he scored 43 goals, all for Compostela in the 1990s.

4. Samuel Okunowo - Barcelona

The full-back won the 1998/99 La Liga title with Barcelona. That season, he played 14 matches for La Blaugrana in the league. Few Nigerians have won the league title, so Okunowo has to make this list. He was moved to Benfica the following season but failed to secure a spot on the team. Injuries destroyed his career, and he played less than 100 times, per These Football Times.

3. Finidi George - Real Betis, Mallorca

Goerge trophy cabinet is huge. He won three Dutch titles and the 1995 Champions League with Ajax before moving to Spain. He was superb in his first season with Real Betis. He helped the Andalusians finish 4th in the table but lost the Copa del Rey final to Barcelona. The Super Eagles legend scored 43 La Liga goals in 175 matches.

2. Mutiu Adepoju - Racing Club, Real Sociedad

The 1994 AFCON champion made over 300 appearances in Spanish football, including 175 in La Liga, for the likes of Real Racing Club Santander, Real Sociedad, and UD Salamanca. He helped Racing Santander secure promotion to La Liga in the early 90s.

1. Ikechukwu Uche - Recreativo Huelva, Getafe, Villarreal

Ikechukwu moved to Spain in 2001 and spent almost all his career there. He played nearly 200 La Liga matches for Villareal, Malaga, Getafe, and Granada. The 2013 AFCON winner scored 43 goals and provided 22 assists in the league. Four of his goals came against Real Madrid, a team he won four times against. He retired with over 100 goals for club and country.

Nigerians to play in Bundesliga

Sports Brief earlier listed the greatest Nigerians to play in the Bundesliga. Jay-Jay Okocha opened the door for many Nigerian players in Germany.

Jonathan Akpoborie bagged 60 Bundesliga goals and spent most of his career in Germany, with the likes of Sunday Oliseh also represented there.

Nigerian stars in Ligue 1

Sports Brief also previously reported on the best Nigerians to play in Ligue 1, France's top tier league.

Vincent Enyeama's spell at Lille was memorable, with John Utaka and Victor Ikpeba leaving their mark.

Before heading to Inter Milan, Taribo West lit up Ligue 1 with Auxerre and left the club as a champion.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
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.