Premier League’s Greatest Nigerians | Dailytrust

Premier League’s Greatest Nigerians

Everton’s Ayegbeni Yakubu celebrates scoring a goal

Nigeria has produced some of the most technically gifted and powerful footballers of all time and many have graced the Premier League with their presence.

There are many players who represent the Super Eagles playing in England’s top division this season and it’s no surprise given the country’s rich heritage with elite footballers.

Earning the prestigious Player of the Month in March 2021, Kelechi Iheanacho has been tearing up the league but despite his goals, Leicester City have been difficult to back with mixed form.

So as you can imagine, it’s always prudent to see what the professionals think about fixtures before backing teams to win in what has been a rollercoaster of a season.

Despite unpredictable team form, the Nigerian representation has been strong and in this article we’ll rate the best Nigerian players in Premier League history.

Yakubu

Yakubu is one of the greatest African representatives in the Premier League and certainly amongst Nigeria’s best.

The Yak fell just short of the illustrious 100 Premier League goals benchmark but did manage a whopping 96 strikes – the most of any Nigerian in the history of the league.

‘Feed the Yak and he will score’ is what the fans used to sing when the powerhouse graced the pitch and it was true.

Using his strength to hold off defenders, The Yak was a dominant force in the box and he was a prized acquisition for all the clubs he played for.

Scoring for Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton and Portsmouth in the Premier League, Yakubu showed a prowess that helped each of the teams he represented battle relegation.

Occasionally accused of being lazy, the Benin City-born striker made it count when it mattered and he was the first player since Peter Beardsley in 1992 to surpass 20 goals in a season whilst at Everton.

It’s scary to imagine what The Yak may have been able to achieve in a Top Four side.

 

Jay Jay Okocha

JayJay Okocha

One of the most naturally skilful players to ever take to a football pitch, Jay Jay Okocha, was a blessing to the Premier League.

In an unlikely transfer coup, Sam Allardyce’s Bolton Wanderers signed the enigmatic midfielder from PSG on a free transfer in 2002.

Okocha was a creative force in a defensive team with little imagination.

Jay Jay, so good they named him twice, was heralded by the Bolton faithful and football fans around the globe for his trickery and inventiveness.

Many players have cited Okocha as their inspiration and one of their idols, none more so than current Premier League and Super Eagles star Alex Iwobi.

Iwobi is Okocha’s nephew and even though he’s an established Premier League player, he still acknowledges that he has some way to go before he reaches the high level of his uncle.

 

Nwankwo Kanu

Kanu Nwankwo

No Nigerian has won more Premier League titles than the mercurial genius that is Nwankwo Kanu.

An integral part of one of the greatest sides in the history of the game – Arsenal’s 2003/2004 Invincibles – Kanu has two league titles to his name as well as a hat-trick of FA Cups.

A skilful and athletic player, Kanu scored important goals for Arsenal, West Brom and Portsmouth, including netting the winner for Pompey in their unforgettable 2008 FA Cup win over Cardiff.

Few strikers score goals that live long in the memory, but Kanu’s name is widely associated with one goal — a memorable backheel against Middlesbrough which happened over 20 years ago in 1999.

It wasn’t just goals that the 6’ 6’’ striker was famed for; he was also productive.

The Owerri born forward has more assists than any other Nigerian in the history of the league which shows that he was selfless and put the team first.

An advanced playmaker, Kanu’s longevity in the game is to be admired as he managed over a decade in the Premier League and an impressive 87 international appearances.