From the phenomenal wizardry of Jay-Jay Okocha for Bolton Wanderers, the remarkable vision of Nwankwo Kanu for Arsenal, to the goalscoring prowess of Yakubu Aiyegbeni, the English Premier League has witnessed the best of Nigerian genius in full flow.
But for every Joseph Yobo who went on to captain Everton, there’s an Isaac Okoronkwo who got relegated with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Soccernet.ng shed the lights on seven Nigerian stars whose spell in England’s top-flight didn’t go as desired.
7. Taye Taiwo – Queens Park Rangers
Taiwo’s first step in Europe with Marseille was a hugely rewarding experience with the 2005 World Youth Championship star enjoying a successful six years in France.
A thirst for a new challenge took him to AC Milan in 2011, and a year later, the left fullback was sent on loan to Queens Park Rangers with the option to buy for a fee of around £3.5 million.
It’s every player’s dream to star in the English Premier League, but Taiwo’s hope was cut short at the end of the season. Despite making 15 appearances, he did not do enough to convince the club to retain him.
6. Victor Obinna – West Ham
Obinna Nsofor was another Nigerian star who arrived in England on a temporary deal.
The Jos-born attacker joined West Ham on-loan ahead of the 2010-11 season, having shown like a million stars at Chievo Verona before Inter Milan snapped him up.
But despite netting three league goals in 25 games and impressing in the cup competitions, Nsofor couldn’t settle down to life in England.
The following season, he joined Lokomotiv Moscow permanently.
5. Ifeanyi Udeze – West Brom
Udeze had played second fiddle to Chelsea’s Celestine Babayaro for a length of time in the Super Eagles, and the belief was that a good spell in England could help him usurp the Atlanta Olympics gold medalist.
After building up his profile at Greek sides AO Kavalas and PAOK Thessaloniki, the defender’s big break finally came when he sealed the deal to join West Bromwich Albion.
Unfortunately, the Baggies would go on to endure a nightmarish season that ended with their relegation in 2003. Udeze quickly returned to the familiar waters of Greece.
4. Julius Aghahowa – Wigan Athletic
Agha-wonder arrived in England with the reputation of a prolific goalscorer both at the international and club levels.
How else would you describe a striker who had led Shakhtar Donetsk to three league titles in five years in Ukraine and had smashed in 14 goals in just 32 outings for the Super Eagles?
But the stars would simply not align in the Edo man’s favour at Wigan Athletic. After one and a half years as well as 29 league games without a single goal, Aghahowa was unceremoniously eased out.
It also marked the end of his time with the Nigerian national team.
3. Emmanuel Emenike – West Ham
The burly striker’s talent was undeniable, but he was bedevilled throughout his club career with unnecessary troubles.
Emenike was a fans favourite in Nigeria since powering the Super Eagles to continental glory at the 2013 African Cup of Nations in South Africa.
Many, therefore, prayed for his success when he turned up at West Ham United on transfer deadline day in January 2016.
Yet his best efforts in 14 EPL games yielded zero goals, and the Hammers didn’t miss him a bit when he left at the end of that campaign.
2. Brown Ideye – West Brom
Ideye landed in the Premier League with high expectations after West Bromwich Albion paid out £10 million – the club’s record signing fee at the time – to secure his signature on a three-year deal.
Who could blame the Baggies for expecting so much from a forward who had painted Switzerland, France, and Ukraine with goals before his arrival? A year before that, Ideye had also been instrumental as Nigeria became champions of Africa for a third time.
But the pressure on his young shoulders proved a burden too heavy to bear after scoring a mere four goals in 24 league appearances.
It was to be Ideye’s first and only season in the English top flight.
1. Ahmed Musa – Leicester City
For so long, everything Musa touched turned to gold. With Kano Pillars, a teenage Musa smashed the Nigeria Professional League goals record after scoring 18 goals for Maisu Gida in 2010.
The following year, the forward powered the Flying Eagles to a sixth honour at the African Youth Championships.
Similar success followed when he moved to Europe, first in the Netherlands and then in Russia.
And it was no big surprise when Leicester City broke the bank to land the 2013 African Cup of Nations hero in the summer of 2016.
But fortune didn’t follow Musa to England, and the attacker had to wait till October before he netted his first league goal of the campaign.
Sadly, he only got one more goal during the next 14 months, and the Foxes moved to end his misery in January 2018, by shipping him on loan to CSKA Moscow.