The Premier League is the highest division of the English soccer league structure, sometimes referred to outside England as the English Premier League or the EPL. It's contested by 20 teams, and each one of them plays a total of 38 matches between home and away.
A total of 46 Nigerian players have played in the English Premier League in the competition's history. Most of them have managed to write their name on the scoresheet at least once, depending on their position on the field.
The first Nigerian soccer player to have moved to the EPL was Efan Ekoku, on March 26, 1993, to Norwich City, while the latest player is Semi Ajayi to West Bromwich. At the moment, there are six Nigerian players actively playing in the 2020-21 Premier League season.
21. Brown Ideye – 4 goals
Brown Ideye started his soccer career at Nigerian side Bayelsa United in 2006. It took him eight years to be noticed by an English club. The striker has played for only one Premier League club in his career, West Bromwich.
He stayed with the Albion for one season only, 2014-15. During that time, Ideye scored four goals in the EPL. The 32-year-old is currently playing for the Turkish club Goztepe.
20. Dickson Etuhu – 4 goals
Dickson Etuhu began his career at Manchester City in 2000. Throughout his career, the former defensive midfielder featured for a total of six English clubs, but with only two of them, he played in the Premier League.
At Fulham, he gathered 91 league appearances, netting three times. Meanwhile, with Sunderland, he made 20 appearances and scored only one goal. Since 2017, he’s played for IFK Rossjoholm, but in 2020, Etuhu was banned from Swedish soccer for match-fixing.
19. Celestine Babayaro – 5 goals
Babayaro began his adventure at Anderlecht in 1994, but three seasons later, he joined Chelsea in the Premier League. There, he won the 1998 UEFA Super Cup, the 2000 FA Cup[ and the 2000 Charity Shield, and reached the 2002 FA Cup Final.
From 1997 to 2005, the ex-left-back played in a total of 133 EPL games, and he even scored five goals. He also featured for Newcastle on 47 league occasions but failed to register any goal. Babayaro retired in 2008 with MLS side LA Galaxy.
18. Wilfred Ndidi – 6 goals
Ndidi made his Premier League switch from Genk to Leicester in 2017, at the age of just 20. For the Belgian club, he played for two years.
In 122 EPL games Ndidi has played so far, he has scored six goals, even though he is a defensive midfielder. He is currently going into his fourth season at the King Power Stadium.
17. Finidi George – 6 goals
Finidi George introduced himself to the Premier League very late in his career, almost at the end of it. He played for six other clubs around Nigeria and Europe, before joining Ipswich Town in 2001, at the age of 30.
George stayed there for three years, but during that time, he made only 25 league appearances and scored six goals. In 2004, he retired after spending the season at Mallorca.
16. John Utaka – 7 goals
John Utaka had a very colorful career overall, having played for 13 clubs from all over the world. One of them was Portsmouth, who he joined in 2007.
His stay lasted four years, but during that time, he appeared in 66 games in the Premier League and netted seven times. The former forward retired from soccer in 2018.
15. Joseph Yobo – 8 goals
The Nigerian defender played for Standard Liege, Marseille, and Tenerife on loan, before being shipped on another loan, this time to Everton. After spending one season there, the Merseyside club bought him outright in 2003.
Yobo went on to become a stalwart in the Everton squad, spending a total of a decade at the Goodison Park, including the season of his loan. During that time, he played 220 games and scored eight goals. The defender retired in 2014, with Norwich City.
14. Daniel Amokachi – 10 goals
Just like Yobo, Amokachi made his name known in the Premier League thanks to Everton. After impressing at Club Brugge for two seasons, in 1994, Everton snatched the forward.
Amokachi went on to score 10 goals in 43 Premier League matches from 1994 to 1996. He retired from professional soccer in 2005.
13. Ade Akinbiyi – 11 goals
Akinbiyi is one of the several players on the list who have played for more than 10 clubs in their career. In fact, the ex-forward can boast of being part of 15 total clubs, mostly in the Premier League and the MLS.
Despite having spells at Norwich City, and Sheffield United, Akinbiyi scored all of his EPL goals while wearing the jersey of Leicester. The now 46-year-old announced his retirement in 2015.
12. Alex Iwobi – 12 goals
Iwobi is a rare Nigeria player who is a youth product of a Premier League club. He was part of Arsenal’s academy for 11 years, before making his first-team debut in 2015.
For the Gunners, he netted on 11 occasions in a total of 100 league games. The 24-year-old forward joined Everton in 2019, and he has scored once for the Toffees so far.
11. Jay-Jay Okocha – 13 goals
Alex Iwobi's nephew, Jay-Jay Okocha, had stints at clubs like Eintracht Frankfurt, Fenerbahce, and Paris Saint-Germain. In addition, he left a mark in the Premier League during his stay at Bolton Wanderers.
Okocha featured 124 times for Bolton in the English top-tier and scored 14 goals from 2002 to 2006. Two years after his exit, the former attacking midfielder retired from soccer at Hull City.
10. Odion Ighalo – 17 goals
Ighalo played for six clubs and went through seven spells to get to Watford on loan from Udinese. It didn’t take much for him to impress, to Watford signed him at the end of the season.
From 2014 to 2017, the striker made 55 league appearances, scoring 17 goals in total. In January 2020, he made a shocking return to the Premier League, joining Manchester United, again on loan.
9. Victor Moses – 20 goals
Victor Moses is the player with the most Premier League experience from the list. Thanks to Wigan, he made his first steps in the English first division in 2010. Two years later he joined Chelsea, but he has been shipped off on six loans since then.
Despite that, the winger has scored seven goals for the Blues in 87 league games. For Wigan, he has managed eight goals, three at Stoke City, and one at West Ham and Liverpool each. The 29-year-old is currently on loan at Spartak Moscow.
8. Kelechi Iheanacho – 21 goals
Iheanacho is a youth product of the Manchester City academy. He spent a season with the youth ranks, before making his breakthrough to the first-team in 2015.
The Nigerian forward appeared in 74 Premier League games for the Citizens, marking his name on the scoresheet nine times. In 2017, he moved to Leicester, where he has so far netted 12 times.
7. Victor Anichebe – 26 goals
One of the many Nigerian players to have played for Everton is Victor Anichebe. An interesting fact is that he is an Everton homegrown player who made his way into the first team in 2006.
During his seven-year stay at the Goodison Park, the striker netted 18 goals in 131 Premier League games. He has also added another six at West Bromwich, and three from his time at Sunderland. Anichebe’s latest soccer activity was recorded back in 2017.
6. Obafemi Martins – 28 goals
Martins played in Italy, before making a move to Newcastle in the Premier League in 2006. Interestingly, he was the first player to wear the No.9 jersey at Newcastle after the retirement of Alan Shearer.
His stay at the Magpies lasted for three seasons, until 2009. During that time, he added 28 goals in 88 Premier League matches. The 36-year-old forward is playing for Wuhan Zall at the moment.
5. Peter Odemwingie – 37 goals
The lone non-Nigeria born player, Odemwingie made his way to the English first division after featuring in Nigeria, France, and Russia. In 2010, West Bromwich announced his transfer.
The forward played a total of 87 league games for WBA and scored 30 goals in total. He has also six goals from his stay at Stoke City, and one at Cardiff City. With Madura United being his final club, he hung up his boots in 2019.
4. Shola Ameobi – 43 goals
In addition to Obafemi Martins, Ameobi made his name known at Newcastle. The only difference is that Shola Ameobi went through years of academy soccer at Newcastle, before making it into their first-team in 2000.
The ex-striker went on to play 295 Premier League fixtures for the Magpies and scored on 43 occasions during his 14-year spell until 2014. He retired in 2018, after spending the season at Notts County.
3. Efan Ekoku – 53 goals
England-born Efan Ekoku spent most of his career on United Kingdom soil, switching between Premier League clubs, EFL Championship sides, and League of Ireland clubs. However, he is most known for his time at Wimbledon (currently Milton Keynes Dons).
At the Dons, he netted 38 league goals in 121 games in the English highest division from 1994 to 1999. In addition, the former striker can boast of adding another 15 goals for Norwich City. He hung up his boots in 2004.
2. Nwankwo Kanu – 54 goals
Nwankwo Kanu spent a great deal of his career in the Premier League, in spite of playing in the Netherlands and Italy prior to his Arsenal move.
In 1999, he switched Inter with the Gunners and that proved to be a very wise decision. Kanu ended up netting 30 goals in 119 league matches for Arsenal. With Portsmouth – the club he retired at in 2012, he added another 17, and seven came from his time at West Bromwich earlier.
1. Yakubu – 95 goals
It took four different clubs and six years for Yakubu to be noticed by an English club. He joined Portsmouth on loan in early 2003, but he was already their full player by the end of the season.
During his time at the Pompey, he scored 29 goals in 67 Premier League matches. He continued to shine after moving to Middlesbrough two years later, marking 24 goals. Besides that, he scored 25 for Everton, and 17 for Blackburn Rovers. Yakubu hung up his boots in 2017.
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