After enjoying his most productive campaign to date and finishing the season as the Eredivisie’s top marksman, new Super Eagle Cyriel Dessers is reportedly on his way to KRC Genk in the Belgian Jupiler League.
Three seasons in the Netherlands has seen him bag enough goals to add his name to the elite class of the most prolific Nigerian stars to ever feature in the Eredivisie.
Iconic footballers like Sunday Oliseh, Haruna Babangida, Peter Rufai, Alloy Agu, Chidi Nwanu, Pius Ikedia, and Ahmed Musa have all starred in the Netherlands.
But don’t expect their names on the top seven list of Nigerian goalscorers in that country.
However, who are the all-time top-scoring Nigerians in the Dutch top-flight? Soccernet.ng shines the light on the first seven.
George Finidi, 18 goals
Arguably the greatest ever Nigerian to play in Spain, George Finidi could also easily be ranked as the finest of his countrymen to ever feature for a Dutch club.
Finidi arrived in the Netherlands as a nobody and spent just three years at Ajax, amassing only 88 Eredivisie games and scoring a meagre 18 goals.
However, the former Sharks forward was a leading member of the Ajax team, which won eight major titles, including the 1995 Champions League.
And by the time he left Amsterdam for Real Betis in 1996, Finidi had become one of the most in-demand wingers in the world.
Finidi, the Super Eagles greatest number seven, sits pretty in the seventh position on this scorer’s list.
Garba Lawal, 20 goals
It is not often you find a defensive midfielder in a top goalscorer’s list. Still, Garba Lawal’s dedication and 20 Eredivisie goals have earned him an exalted seat among this elite group.
After joining Roda JC from Tunisia’s Esperance in 1997, Lawal spent the next six years with the Dutch side winning two Dutch Cups with the Miners.
The versatile midfielder later played in Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, and China. Still, it was in the Netherlands that he was most successful, chalking up the second-highest number of league matches for a Nigerian with 155.
Michael Obiku, 21 goals
Four games in the colours of the Super Eagles, which only yielded a goal, show Michael Obiku was not the most popular Nigerian footballer ever.
But the ‘Black Diamond’ was a revered star in Holland in the 1990s where he became an Eredivisie champion in 1993 and lifted the KNVB Cup in 1994 and 1995 with Feyenoord.
Obiku, the first Nigerian to play in Japan’s J1 League, later turned out for AZ Alkmaar.
Although the former Anorthosis Famagusta FC star had his best years at Cyprus, his 21 Eredivisie goals in 88 games sealed his place as one of Nigeria’s finest in the Netherlands.
Nwankwo Kanu, 25 goals
The legendary Nigerian forward is one of Nigeria’s most decorated player in history, winning honours in the Netherlands, Italy, and England.
Nwankwo Kanu’s European journey, however, started at Ajax, where he won three Eredivisie titles and the UEFA Champions League.
Already a world champion in his teens, Kanu’s successful spell in Amsterdam, including his 25 league goals in 53 games, convinced the football world he was the real deal.
And it was no surprise when Inter Milan paid almost €4 million to take him to Italy after that.
Cyriel Dessers, 27 goals
Fifteen goals and five assists in 26 matches for Heracles Almelo in the just-concluded season earned Cyriel Dessers the top marksman award in Netherland.
Add those to the 12 strikes in 40 appearances he netted for FC Utrecht across two previous campaigns, and you get 27 goals and a third-place finish on this list for a man who is close to making his bow for the Super Eagles.
Dessers’ time in the Eredivisie is over according to reports, meaning he will have no more opportunities to add to his tally and move up this ranking.
But it is also his chance to rewrite the record books in Belgium.
Bartholomew Ogbeche, 36 goals
Remember that former PSG starlet who impressed with a bicycle kick on his Super Eagles debut and thereby earned a place in the Nigerian party to the 2002 World Cup? Yeah, Bartholomew Ogbeche.
He never quite lived up to the early promise and didn’t hit it big with the national team. But he was for a while a goal-machine of sorts for Cambuur and Willem II in the Eredivisie.
Ogbeche notched 36 goals in 94 league games in the Netherlands to salvage some of his battered reputations.
Now 35 and still banging goals in India, Ogbeche’s exploits in Holland will remain one of the highlights of a career that promised so much but delivered so little.
Tijani Babangida, 50 goals
Fifty goals set Tijani Babangida apart from all others at the very top of the goalscorer’s chart on this elite list.
It took the petite right-winger 175 league matches across nine seasons playing for four Dutch clubs to clock half a century goals in the Eredivisie.
Babangida joined Roda JC Kerkrade from Niger Tornadoes, and after mastering the league on-loan at VV-Venlo, the former Nigeria international returned to Roda JC.
He impressed at the second time of asking, and Ajax swooped in on him, signing him in 1996 as the replacement for the departing Finidi George.
The 1996 Olympics gold medalist won the Eredivisie with Ajax in 1998. A couple of other Nigerians also have won the league title in the Netherlands.
Still, no one has come close to equalling Babangida’s scoring record over 25 years after leaving the country.