The UEFA Champions League and Europa League continue this week with several Nigerian stars featuring in both competitions.
Emmanuel Dennis, Odion Ighalo, Frank Onyeka and Zaidu Sanusi are Nigeria’s representative in the Champions League this season, while the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho, Chidera Ejuke and Samuel Chukwueze are flying the country’s colours in the Europa League.
But before them, several Nigerian stars have graced both competitions and even made history. Soccernet takes a look at some history-making Nigerians to have played in UEFA Club competitions.
Most Appearances In The UCL: Former Super Eagles captain, Nwankwo Kanu, is the country’s record holder in Europe’s biggest competition.
Kanu, who featured for the likes of Ajax, Inter Milan and Arsenal, has a total of 60 appearances including qualifying in the Champions League.
The Atlanta Olympic gold medalist is closely followed by John Mikel Obi, who has a total of 59 appearances. Obafemi Martins (36), Taiye Taiwo (35) and Ahmed Musa(29) round up the top five.
Most Goals In The UCL: Nigerian players have not really been prolific in Europe’s biggest club competition. Obafemi Martins leads the way in the scoring charts, but the former Inter Milan man has just ten goals, and that includes the qualifying stages.
Julius Aghahowa follows him with seven goals while former stars, Emmanuel Emenike, Victor Ikpeba and Yakubu Aiyegbeni, have also scored seven times in the competition.
First Nigerian To Play In A Major UEFA Club Competition Final: Former Super Eagles manager, the late Stephen Keshi, is the first Nigerian star to play in a major Uefa club final and that came in the defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup
Keshi turned out for Anderlecht in the 1991 final loss to Italian side, Sampdoria.
First Nigerian To Win A UEFA Competition: It was not until five years later that Nigeria finally had a winner in Europe’s club competition.
Both Finidi George and Kanu Nwankwo featured for Ajax as they defeated AC Milan on penalties in the 1995 Champions League final. While Finidi played for the entire duration of the encounter, Kanu was a second-half substitute.
Following their success, John Mikel Obi also repeated the same feat in 2012 as he was part of the Chelsea side that defeated Bayern Munich on penalties in the 2012 final.
Both Kanu and Mikel also won the UEFA Cup- now the Europa League with Inter Milan and Chelsea respectively.
Other Nigerians to have won the UEFA cup include Taribo West (Inter Milan, 1998) and Chidi Odiah (CSKA Moscow, 2005).
Best of the Rest: Former Super Eagles goalkeeper Ndubuisi Egbo holds the record as the first and only African coach to manage a side in the Champions League.
Egbo made history when he led KF Tirana to victory in the first round of qualifying, which makes him the first coach from the continent to record a win a match in Europe’s biggest club competition.
Not only that, but he is also the only African manager to lead a team in Europe’s second club competition, the Europa League.
However, Egbo’s fairytale run ended when Young Boys knocked out Tirana in the qualifying round of the Europa League.
Celestine Babayaro remains the youngest player to play in the Champions League, but that 26-year old record is under threat from Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko.