Top 10 Legendary Nigerian Footballers Who Have Graced the English Premier League

Top 10 Legendary Nigerian Footballers Who Have Graced the English Premier League

Robert Abong'o
March 27, 2024 at 4:04 AM
In this article:
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English Premier League logo
ENG Premier League
N. Kanu
-FNigeria logo
Peter Odemwingie logo
P. Odemwingie
Madura United logoFNigeria logo
Joseph Yobo logo
J. Yobo
-DNigeria logo
John Mikel Obi logo
J. O. Mikel
Al Kuwait SC logoMNigeria logo
Yakubu Ayegbeni logo
Y. Ayegbeni
-FNigeria logo
C. Babayaro
Victor Moses logo
V. Moses
Spartak Moscow logoMNigeria logo
Odion Ighalo logo
O. Ighalo
Al Wehda Mecca logoFNigeria logo
  • The number of Nigerian pro footballers in Europe has risen over the last two decades
  • Few have risen to claim awards alongside the crème de la crème in the Premier League
  • Sports Brief samples the top 10 best Super Eagles stars to have ever played in England

Several Nigerian footballers have played in the English Premier League throughout its history.

While some struggled to make significant contributions, some Super Eagles players became household names purely due to their dazzling skills and crucial contributions on the pitch.

Sports Brief samples the top 10 best Nigerian footballers to have graced England's top-flight.

Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo in action for Manchester United in a past match, Photo: Simon Stacpoole.
Odion Ighalo played for Manchester United and Watford FC in the Premier League. Photo: Simon Stacpoole.
Source: Getty Images

10. Odion Ighalo

Odion Ighalo's story is one of unexpected success. As reported by Watford Football Club's website, he played a pivotal role in the Hornets' promotion to the Premier League in 2015, maintaining his form to become their top scorer in their debut season. His impressive December 2015 performances earned him Player of the Month honours, solidifying his place in league history as one of Nigeria's finest.

9. Joseph Yobo

Yobo was a rock at the heart of Everton's defence. He played a crucial role in securing their top-flight status and even helped them qualify for the Champions League playoffs under David Moyes. While trophies eluded him, his consistency was undeniable. He was one of only seven players to feature in every minute of every league game in the 2006/07 season.

8. Osaze Odemwingie

Osaze Odemwingie became an instant fan favourite at West Bromwich Albion after joining from Russia in 2010. He shattered club records by becoming their all-time highest scorer in a single season, netting 15 goals.

7. Daniel Amokachi

Daniel Amokachi played for Everton in the Premier League. Photo: All Sport.
Daniel Amokachi in action for Everton against Tottenham Hotspur in 1995. Photo: All Sport.
Source: Getty Images

Nicknamed 'The Bull,' Daniel Amokachi earned his move to Everton after stellar performances for Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup. He holds the distinction of scoring the first-ever goal in the new UEFA Champions League format, as his impact extended beyond his 10 goals in 43 appearances.

6. Victor Moses

Victor Moses' journey to Chelsea involved stints at Wigan, Stoke, and Liverpool. Despite these loan spells, his talent shone through. He played a vital role in the Blues' 2012/13 UEFA Europa League success and was a valuable member of the Super Eagles' 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) winning squad.

5. Celestine Babayaro

Celestine Babayaro ruled Chelsea's left flank from 1997 to 2004. Arriving from Anderlecht, he collected a cabinet full of silverware, including an FA Cup, a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, and a UEFA Super Cup. Renowned for his acrobatic celebrations, Babayaro's over 200 appearances for the London club cemented his status as a club legend.

4. Yakubu Aiyegbeni

Yakubu Aiyegbeni played for Everton and Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League in December 2011. Photo: Chris Brunskill.
Yakubu Aiyegbeni celebrates scoring for Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League in December 2011. Photo: Chris Brunskill.
Source: Getty Images

Affectionately nicknamed 'The Yak', Yakubu Aiyegbeni's prolificacy at Portsmouth made him their all-time leading scorer in the league with 28 goals across two seasons. This earned him a lucrative move to Everton, further solidifying his reputation as a top striker. He is one of only two African players, alongside Didier Drogba, to have reached the 100-goal mark in English football, as reported by Soccernet Nigeria.

3. John Obi Mikel

Mikel Obi established himself as another successful Nigerian at Chelsea. He boasts an impressive trophy haul, including the Champions League, Europa League, Premier League titles, FA Cups, and a League Cup. While his goal tally may not be the highest (just two in 11 seasons), his defensive midfield presence was a crucial shield for the Blues.

2. Austin "Jay-Jay" Okocha

Jay Jay Okocha played for Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League. Photo: Richard Sellers.
Bolton Wanderers star Jay Jay Okocha takes a free kick against Man United in the Premier League in September 2004. Photo: Richard Sellers.
Source: Getty Images

Widely considered Nigeria's most skilful midfielder, Austin 'Jay Jay' Okocha took the Premier League by storm after arriving from Paris Saint-Germain in 1998. His dazzling skills and stunning goals left fans in awe, particularly during his time with Bolton Wanderers. Okocha's impact was such that Bolton even printed shirts with the inscription "Jay-Jay, so good they named him twice." He is fondly remembered for leading Bolton to a cup final and scoring a goal voted the club's best Premier League strike in 2008.

1. Kanu Nwankwo

Former Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu celebrates a goal with Thierry Henry in 2002. Photo: Ben Radford.
Arsenal's Nwankwo Kanu celebrates his late winner during the FA Barclaycard Premiership vs Bolton Wanderers at Highbury in September 2002. Photo: Ben Radford.
Source: Getty Images

Popularly known as 'Papilo' for his resemblance to a popular children's cartoon character, Kanu is a genuine Premier League legend. He was a core member of Arsenal's "Invincibles" team, the legendary squad that went unbeaten throughout the 2003/04 Premier League season. He is among the few players to have won the FA Cup with multiple clubs (Arsenal and Portsmouth).

Nigeria legend Sunday Oliseh Blasts NFF

Sports Brief reported that Sunday Oliseh slammed the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), accusing them of trying to 'kill everything home-based' in reaction to the Super Eagles' 40-man provisional Africa Cup of Nations list.

Former head coach, Jose Peseiro, submitted his provisional squad with only Ojo Oluwasegun (Enyimba FC), Christian Nwoke (Sporting Lagos FC), and Obasogie Amas (Bendel Insurance) as home-based players.

The former Borussia Dortmund and Juventus player noted the shift in the times.

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Robert Abong'o
Editor - Africa Team
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