5 greatest Nigeria national football team players in Serie A history

5 greatest Nigeria national football team players in Serie A history
Credit: Icon Sport

The Italian Serie A is one of the five major leagues in the world and has at multiple times witnessed brilliant Nigeria national football team players feature in the top-flight competition.

Some of these players have gone on to achieve success while playing in Serie A by winning titles and claiming individual honours.

Over 33 Nigeria national football team players have appeared in the Italian league, of which the best five will be discussed in this article.

The best of the lot, however will be Victor Osimhen, who's now the face of the Nigeria national football team, the Super Eagles, and also his team, Napoli. He has also become one of the very best strikers in the world at the moment.

Five greatest Nigeria national football team players in Serie A history

Victor Osimhen (Napoli 2020 – present)

Nigeria national football team player, Victor Osimhen
Credit: Icon Sport

Osimhen joined Napoli from Lille on 31 August 2020 for a club-record fee of €70 million, potentially rising to €80 million with add-ons to make him one of the most expensive African transfers to date.

He became an integral part of the Napoli Scudetto-winning team for the first time in 33 years as the striker proved to be an all-important differential for Napoli in his third season at the club.

The Super Eagles striker etched his name in history as he clinched the prestigious golden boot award for his remarkable feat in scoring an astonishing 26 goals in the 2022/2023 Serie A season for Napoli.

With this, he became the first and only African player to ever achieve this incredible feat, as the Nigerian forward in every match he featured in for Napoli showed how dangerous he was in front of goal.

Furthermore, the Nigerian became the first African footballer to pick up the best overall striker award in the 2022/23 season.

The achievement made Osimhen rub shoulders in the esteemed company of players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Ciro Immobile, to receive the best overall striker award.

Osimhen's conversion rate for Napoli in the 2022/23 season was brilliant, he showcased his goal-scoring ability by netting an impressive 26 goals in just 32 matches, alongside contributing 4 assists.

At the time of writing, Osimhen has scored 59 goals for Napoli in 101 appearances since joining the side in 2020, and he's set to continue with the team having agreed to renew his contract.

Osimhen will go down as the greatest ever Nigeria national football team player in Serie A history as his stay and goal-scoring feat is set to continue for a few more years.

Obafemi Martins (Reggiana 2001, Inter 2001-2006)

Nigeria national football team player, Obafemi Martins
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The former Super Eagles forward caught the eyes of football enthusiasts in Serie A and around Europe with his lightning speed.

His first club in the Serie A was Reggiana where he broke into the first team and after just two appearances, he caught the eye of Inter Milan scouts, who immediately signed him up for €750,000 in 2001.

In his first season, he scored 23 goals for Inter’s primavera side, helping them to the Italian Under-18 title and this form resulted in a chance to impress in the club's Serie A first team.

His pace quickly earned him a reputation and was a major problem for defenders. After a couple of seasons with the Nerazzurri, he became a first-team regular for the Milan club, forming a formidable partnership with Brazilian Adriano whose power and strength complimented the sheer speed of Obafemi Martins.

The Nigeria national football team player signed a long-term contract with Inter in 2005, which ran until 2010 and was worth around €2.5 million annually but was later sold to Newcastle in 2006 when the club brought in Hernan Crespo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

In all, Martins played 90 Serie A games for both Reggiana and Inter Milan, and scored 28 goals.

Taribo West (Inter 1997-1999, Milan 1999-2000)

Nigeria national football team player, Taribo West
Credit: Icon Sport

In June 1997, West joined Italian side Inter Milan, on a four-year deal. He made his competitive debut for the club in a 1-0 Coppa Italia victory over Foggia on 3 September 1997.

The former Nigerian national football team defender had a successful stint at Inter Milan where he was a key member of the side that enjoyed European glory by winning the UEFA Cup in 1998.

He was considered by many as ‘the rock’ in the heart of that Inter defence, and his unassuming style, not to mention his trademark hairstyles, made him stand out amongst his teammates.

But at the end of the 1998/99 season, following clashes with former Internazionale coach, Mircea Lucescu, it was clear his future at the Nerazzurri was in doubt.

In 2000, West switched to Inter's crosstown rivals AC Milan. He debuted for the club on 24 March 2000, coming on as an injury-time substitute for Andriy Shevchenko in a 2-0 win over Juventus. On 14 May 2000, West managed to score his only goal for Milan in a 4-0 victory over Udinese.

Although his time with the Rossoneri was less than a happy one as he only managed four appearances for the club before moving onto England in 2000, he's had a great time in Italy to have a place on this list.

In all, Taribo West made 48 Serie A appearances and scored two goals as a defender.

Sunday Oliseh (Reggiana 1994-1995, Juventus 1999-2000)

Nigeria national football team player, Sunday Oliseh
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The Nigerian national football team player's stock rose when he scored a thunderous shot against Spain in the 1998 FIFA World Cup to earn victory for his country over the Europeans.

He played for Reggiana and after an impressive spell with the club, he moved to Cologne, then Ajax and later turned out for Juventus with whom he won the Intertoto Cup in 1999.

He was a technically gifted midfielder with good passing ability and played 47 Italian domestic league games with two goals under his belt.

Nwankwo Kanu (Inter 1996-1999)

Nigeria national football team player, Nwankwo Kanu
Credit: Icon Sport

Nwankwo Kanu moved to Italy as a high-profile youngster following a successful period with Ajax in which he played a part in their Champions League success over Milan.

His time at Inter was cut short after his medical examination revealed a serious heart defect. With the help of the club, he had a successful surgery.

After his return, Kanu struggled to make an impact at Inter, making just 12 appearances over two seasons for the club. It was then that Kanu would be introduced to English football, joining Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal in 1999 where he went on to achieve great success.

This article was most recently revised and updated 9 months ago

Joseph is a freelance writer who spends most of his time writing engaging football contents. Based in Nigeria, Joseph is a die-hard Real Madrid fan with over 8 years experience in the sports betting space. He has covered football match previews, predictions, and news across leagues in Africa and Europe.