For every single Nwankwo Kanu success story in the Premier League, there are several other Nigerian stars who tried their luck, displayed their talents but ultimately failed to make a lasting mark.
SoccerNet Nigeria highlights 5 Nigerians who flopped when given the opportunity to dazzle the English top flight league.
The dreadlocked defender began his European sojourn at Auxerre, before moving to Italy where he became one of the few players ever to wear the jerseys of city rivals, AC Milan and Inter Milan. After his footballing career slowed down due to his involvement in Ministry work, Taribo did make a last gasp attempt at rejuvenating his career at newly promoted Premier League club Derby County in 2000.
However, even his best efforts and 18 league appearances couldn’t save the Rams from getting sent right back to the lower leagues. And West duly moved to Germany.
Julius had been one of the most feared marksmen in Europe for Shakhtar Donestk helping them with countless goals that had secured several league titles and respect on the continent. Finally he would get his dream move to the Premier League but not to one of the top sides that had courted his signature in the past seasons.
A year and a half at Wigan Athletic yielded no fun, no drama and not one single goal for the Nigerian striker and the Premier League honeymoon was quickly brought to an end.
A Champions League winner with Ajax, a 1994 AFCON winner, a goalscorer at the World Cup, and a proud tag as one of the world’s finest right midfielder, Finidi had seen it all at the highest level.
Towards the end of his career, he was tempted to pit his wits against the Premier League’s best. He signed for Ipswich Town and scored twice on his debut in a 3-1 win over Derby County. But that was as good as it got. Finidi underperformed and Ipswich were relegated.
Popularly known as the ‘Weapon of Mass Destruction”, Obafemi came to limelight as a teenage sensation with Inter Milan after securing a surprise first team shirt ahead of the more illustrious Christian Vieri. After impressing in the Champions League, a welcomed move to the Premier League and Newcastle was sealed for 15 million Euros. Martins inherited the club’s cherished number 9 shirt, vacated after the retirement of the club-record goalscorer Alan Shearer.
His 28 goals in 88 league games was decent enough but injuries and inconstitency reduced him to playing back up to Michael Owen and Mark Viduka. After just three years, Martins quit England and moved to Wolfsburg in Germany.
Lagos-born Shittu started his career at Charlton Athletic and proceeded to play for a host of other English clubs before finally tasting Premier League football with Watford in 2006. He was a part of a defense line that shipped in the most goals in the topflight and the Hornets were relegated.
Shittu made a quick comeback to the Premier League with Bolton Wanderers in 2008 but a mere 10 league appearances in his first season and not a single one the following term, ensured Danny Shittu’s Premier League career did not go as he would have wanted. He was later unceremoniously released by the club.