The English Premier League has players from all over the world. Since 1993 there have been over 40 Nigerians making their way to England to play in this top football league. That’s more than from any other African country. Let’s take a look at the very best Nigerian players who have joined Premier League clubs.
Before joining Portsmouth in 2003, Yakubu had been playing for the Israeli side Maccabi Haifa. He could have joined Derby County, but a work permit could not be arranged. The 2002/03 season saw Yakubu saw seven goals in the Champions League and that caught the attention of Harry Redknapp who signed the Nigerian on loan, eventually signing for £4 million.
In his time at the club, he became their top goalscorer in the Premier League. He left them in 2005 and repeated his goalscoring feats at Middlesbrough, scoring 25 goals for them. More followed at Everton who paid £11.25 million for him. 15 goals were scored in the 2007/08 season but in November 2008 suffered an Achilles Tendon injury.
The goals dried up for him and he went out on loan to then Championship side Leicester City. He started scoring again and also did so when returning to the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers, scoring 17 goals in 30 games in the 2011/12 season. He left for China in 2012 but ended with 95 Premier League goals, more than any other Nigerian player has scored.
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It looked as if Nwankwo Kanu might never get the chance to play in the Premier League. While with Inter Milan, he had to have an operation to mend a heart defect. After only playing 12 games for Inter, he joined Arsenal in 1999 and scored 12 goals for the Gunners in his first season, often coming off the bench to score a vital goal. His best game for them was scoring a hat-trick against Chelsea. Arsenal won 3-2 after trailing 2-0.
He left Arsenal in 2006 after scoring 30 Premier League goals. Another seven followed at West Brom and then 17 in four seasons at Portsmouth. In all that was 54 goals and 29 assists, three more than Yakubu.
No Nigerian has played more games in the Premier League than Shola Ameobi. He moved to England from Nigeria at the age of five and joined his local club Newcastle United in 1997, making his first team debut in 2000.
He wasn’t a prolific striker with a best of nine goals in the 2005/06 season. In total he scored 53 goals for them in 14 years but would have scored more if not for injury problems. Hopefully more Nigerian players will come to the English Premier League and enjoy great success.