Cyriel Dessers’ €5 million switch from Dutch side Heracles Almelo to Genk continues the age-long tradition of Nigerian footballers seeking fame and fortune in Belgium.
Dessers joins the likes of Emmanuel Dennis, Paul Onuachu, and Imoh Ezekiel in following the footsteps of heroes past such as Stephen Keshi, Osaze Odemwingie, Victor Ikpeba, and Alloy Agu among several others.
During the 2019/2020 season, ten Nigerian footballers played 124 matches in the Belgium top flight, netting 32 times, the most of any nationals after the host country.
In fact, 90 Nigerians have featured in more than 3,000 games over the years for Belgian clubs in the Jupiler League, scoring 499 goals and contributing 212 assists at the last count.
As is often the case in life, while some struggled and left without making any mark, others excelled and moved on to greater heights for self and fatherland.
Soccernet.ng highlights ten of Nigeria’s most excellent stars ever to grace the pitches in Belgium.
NB: Players still on the payroll of Belgian clubs are not considered.
Former Nantes star Samson Siasia played football in Belgium, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and France. Still, it was in the Kingdom of Belgium that the Nigerian star enjoyed his best years in Europe.
Over six years playing solely for Lokeren, Siasia found the back of the net 31 times in over 150 league matches, the most goals the former Julius Berger striker scored for any club abroad.
Siasia was a key member of the Nigerian national team that conquered Africa at Tunisia ’94, and he even scored a goal at the Super Eagles first-ever appearance at the FIFA World Cup that same year.
As a coach, Siasia guided Nigeria’s youth team to glory at the 2005 U-20 African Youth Championship as well as a runner-up spot at the 2005 Under-20 World Cup.
He also coached the U-23 team to a silver-medal finish at the 2008 Rio Olympic Games.