So many Nigerian stars have made their marks on the world’s most glamorous football stage playing for some of the biggest clubs in the world.
A look at the Premier League threw up a few exciting facts and figures of how Nigerian-born footballers have added to the glitz and glam of Europe’s most watched league.
1. Nwankwo Kanu is the first Nigerian player to ever play for Arsenal football club. The former Super Eagles captain is also the first ever Nigerian to feature for Inter Milan in the Serie A. King Papilo was also a member of the Arsenal ‘Invincibles’, the Arsene Wenger side that went a whole season undefeated in the league.
2. Chelsea paid Anderlecht £2.25million to sign Celestine Babayaro in 1997, which was the club record for a teenager at the time.
3. Obafemi Martins’s 20-yard thunderbolt of an equalizer for Newcastle in a stunning 3-2 win at Tottenham on 14 January 2007 was clocked by Sky Sports at a speed of 84 mph (135 km/h). It was the hardest hit shot in Europe by any Nigerian, the seventh hardest in the premier league and the ninth hardest shot recorded in history.
4. Daniel ‘The Bull’ Amokachi joined Everton after his exploits for Nigeria at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Nigerian player to play in the EPL.
5. Austin Jay-Jay Okocha in November 2003 became the first Nigerian player to win the Premier League Player of the Month Award.However, Peter Odemwingie is the only Nigerian player to have won the award three times. Watford’s Odion Ighalo is the only other Nigerian to have won the award (in December 2015).
6. Joseph Yobo was then manager David Moyes’ first signing for Everton when his loan deal from Marseille was made permanent, going on to become one of only seven players in the entire league to play every minute of every game throughout the 2006–07 season. Yobo was also the first African to skipper the Liverpool-based club.
7. Chelsea’s Mikel Obi is the only Nigerian player to have won the UEFA Champions League with an English Premier League team.
8. Yakubu ‘Yak’ Aiyegbeni is one of only two African players (the other being Didier Drogba) to have hit 100 goals in English football.
9. When Everton in August 2007 paid £11.25 million to secure Yakubu’s services from Portsmouth, it was at the time the most the club had ever paid for a player. He went on to repay their trust by becoming the first Everton player since Peter Beardsley to net 20 goals in a season, during his stint at the Goodison Park.
10. Peter Osaze Odemwingie, on 30 April 2011, became the first player in West Brom‘s Premier League history to score in four consecutive games, earning him two Premier League Player of the Month awards of the season, and making him only the sixth man to have received the accolade twice in a season in the award’s history.
The Super Eagles’ forward ended his debut season in the EPL as West Bromwich Albion’s top goalscorer with 15 goals.
11. Shola Ameobi’s 14 years of active playing service for Newcastle United is the longest for any Nigerian at any English club.
12. Austin Okocha’s stunning goal in Bolton Wanderers vital league win against West Ham United in October 2008 was named the league’s team Goal of the Season and was also voted by fans as Bolton‘s best ever Premier League goal.