While Nigeria didn’t quite make it to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, after they lost out to Ghana over a two-legged qualifier, it doesn’t mean that the Super Eagles squad isn’t stacked with talent. The national team has stars plying their trade all over Europe, including in the Premier League, La Liga, and in Serie A.
The likes of Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi, Joe Aribo, and Emanuel Denis all regularly feature in the English top flight. Explosive winger Samuel Chukwueze is one of the best players for Spanish club Villareal, while Ademola Lookman turns out for Atalanta, who are challenging for the top four over in Italy. The shining star in the international setup currently, however, is, of course, Victor Osimhen.
The Napoli striker has bagged 16 goals in 17 games in the Italian top flight this season, and his exploits have fired his club to the top of the Serie A table. In fact, the Azzurri are a whopping 13 points clear of their nearest rivals, Inter Milan. Online bookmaker Bovada, whose betting offering can be found here: https://www.bovada.lv/sports, have made Napoli the odds-on favourites to claim their first Scudetto since the days of Diego Maradona.
But while it is Osimhen that flies the Nigerian flag highest at the moment, there is no doubt that Nigeria’s finest exploits have all given their best days to the English Premier League. The division has been graced by some of the most talented players from all over the world, including Nigeria. The Nigerian players who played in the Premier League have been some of the most successful and influential players in the league’s history.
From the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha and John Obi Mikel to the new generation of Premier League stars such as Wilfred Ndidi and Wilfried Zaha, Nigerian players have been making a big impact in the Premier League. Here are some of the best Nigerian players to ever play in the Premier League.
So good, they named him twice. That’s what Bolton Wanderers fans used to say about Jay-Jay Okocha. The former Paris Saint-Germain star is one of the most iconic Nigerian players to ever play in the Premier League.
He is widely regarded as one of the best African players of all time and is one of the few players to have won four players of the season awards in the Premier League. He played for Bolton Wanderers from 2003 to 2006 and was instrumental in keeping them in the Premier League for four consecutive seasons. During his time with Bolton, Okocha scored 15 goals and provided 20 assists. He was also named in the Premier League team of the year in 2005.
John Obi Mikel
One of the most successful Nigerian players in the Premier League is John Obi Mikel. He joined Chelsea in 2006 and went on to make 374 appearances for the club, winning two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, one Champions League trophy, and one Europa League trophy. He was also named in the PFA team of the year in 2010/11 and was named in the Premier League team of the decade in 2020.
Mikel was a mainstay in the Blues side under managers such as Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink, and Carlo Ancelotti. The central midfielder will go down in history as one of the most underrated players in Premier League history.
Many were stunned when Antonio Conte took charge of Chelsea and plucked Victor Moses from the wilderness and turned him into one of his side’s best players. He joined Wigan Athletic in 2010 and went on to make over 100 appearances for the club. He then joined Chelsea in 2012 and went on to spend nine years at the club.
During his time at Stamford Bridge, he would only make 128 appearances, but he would be crucial to Premier League, FA Cup, and Europa League successes. He also had loan spells at Liverpool, Stoke City, and West Ham United.
Wilfred Ndidi is perhaps the best Nigerian player in the Premier League today. He joined Leicester City in 2017 and has since become one of the most important players for the club. He has featured over 200 times for Leicester and helped them win the FA Cup in 2021.
He was also named in the PFA team of the year in 2020/21 and is widely regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League. Still, at just 26 years of age, his best days are still ahead of him and expect further success to follow.
The list of best Nigerian players to have graced the Premier League is not complete without the mention of Yakubu Aiyegbeni.
“The Yak” has was fondly called by the fans of all four Premier League clubs he played for, was one of the best strikers in the English top division league during his time.
He was a prolific goal scorer whose name is amongst the top 5 five African highest goal scorers in the Premier League with 96 goals.
Yakubu is one of the only five players to have scored a hat-trick for 3 or more Premier Leagues having done so with Portsmouth, Everton, and Blackburn Rovers.