Nigerian players in England: The best Super Eagles ever assembled?

Nigerian players in England: The best Super Eagles ever assembled?
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Ever since the days of John Chidozie and John Fashanu, many Nigerian players in England have continued to fly Nigeria’s flag high.

With AFCON 2023 about to kick off this weekend, let us look at some of the Nigerian players in England and assemble a team.

Perhaps with their antecedents, their qualities could rival many top teams globally.

In a 4-4-2 system, which was the preferred system of the Super Eagles, who are the best Nigeria players in England?

Nigerian players in England: The best 11

Carl Ikeme (Goalkeeper)

Nigerian players in England - Carl Ikeme
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Nigeria has not exported many goalkeepers to England. Carl Ikeme is one of the few Nigerian players in England to play as a goalkeeper.

Ikeme played his entire career at Wolverhampton Wanderers and made 207 appearances across all competitions.

Acute leukaemia cut short his career, and he retired in 2018 after a short spell with the Super Eagles.

He made ten appearances for the national team.

Joseph Yobo (Centre-back)

Nigerian players in England - Joseph Yobo
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Joseph Yobo played for ten years at Everton. The rock-solid defender for the Super Eagles and was part of the team that won the 2013 AFCON.

He won no titles in England but is one of the highest-capped Super Eagles players with 101 appearances. He also scored seven goals for the national team.

Danny Shittu (Centre-back)

When the Super Eagles were struggling for defenders, Danny Shittu came into the team.

Shittu, a burly defender, is one of the few Nigerian players in England to play as a defender.

Shittu played for several English teams, including Charlton Athletic, Queens Park Rangers and Bolton Wanderers. He made 32 appearances for the Super Eagles.

Celestine Babayaro (Left-Back)

Nigerian players in England - Celestine Babayaro
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The flamboyant Celestine Babayaro joined Chelsea from Anderlecht in 1997 after helping the Dream Team win the football Olympic gold in Atalanta, USA, in 1996.

He spent eight years with the Stamford Bridge side and three years at Newcastle United.

He won several laurels at Chelsea, including the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (1998), UEFA Super Cup (1998) and the FA Cup (2000).

Abbey George (Right-Back)

Abbey George was an unknown entity until he called a wild-card invitation to the Super Eagles in 2003.

He is a good friend of Joseph Yobo and made 18 appearances for the Super Eagles.

He didn’t hit it big in England, where he played for Macclesfield Town, Port Vale and Crewe Alexander.

John Obi Mikel (Midfield)

Nigerian players in England -John Obi Mikel
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Mikel Obi joined Chelsea in 2006 after the Stamford Bridge side faced off with Manchester United for his services.

He is perhaps the most successful Nigerian player, as he won every club title with the Blues except the Club World Cup.

He is one of the most capped Super Eagles players, with 91 caps. He played as a holding midfielder for Chelsea but in an advanced position for the national team.

Austin Okocha (Midfield)

Nigerian players in England - Austin Okocha
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Austin Okocha is by far the most popular Nigerian footballer. He became one of the many Nigerian players in England in the twilight of his career.

Despite that, he made a lasting impression in England with Bolton Wanderers, where he spent four years.

Jay-Jay helped Bolton Wanderers reach the final of the Football League Cup in 2004. He also won AFCON 94 and Olympic gold with the Super Eagles.

Jay-jay has 73 appearances for the national team and scored 14 goals.

Victor Moses (Right-wing)

Nigerian players in England - Victor Moses
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Victor Moses is one player that can play as a right full-back or as a right-winger.

He played for several English clubs, including Crystal Palace, Wigan Athletic, Chelsea, Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United, but at Chelsea, under Antonio Conte, he blossomed.

He won AFCON 2013 with the Super Eagles, among other laurels he won at club level.

Peter Odemwingie (Left-wing)

Nigerian players in England - Osaze Odemwingie
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Peter Osaze Odemwingie joined the Nigerian players in England in 2010 and played for several clubs in the English Premier League and the Championship. He can play anywhere across the front line.

The clubs he played for include West Bromwich Albion, Cardiff City, Stoke City and Rotherham.

He was a notable face for the Super Eagles, and won a silver in the 2008 Olympics and bronze at AFCON 2004, 2006 and 2010.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Forward)

Nigerian players in England - Yakubu Aiyegbeni
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Popularly known as The Yak, Yakubu Aiyegbeni is a notable name in English football as he is the highest-scoring Nigerian player in England.

He has featured for several clubs, including Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton, Leicester City and Blackburn Rovers.

He has 95 Premier League goals to become the fifth highest-scoring African behind Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Adebayor.

He is remembered for his World Cup miss against Greece.

Nwankwo Kanu (Forward)

Nigerian players in England - Nwankwo Kanu
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The only stain in Kanu’s career is not scoring any goal at AFCON. He is number ten among the Highest goal-scoring Africans in the Premier League with 54 goals.

He is remembered for his performance at the 1996 Atalanta Olympics, where he helped Nigeria win the football gold, plus his 15-minute hattrick against Chelsea in 1999.

In 2008, he helped Portsmouth win the FA Cup and scored 12 goals for the Super Eagles.

Honourable mentions

Isaac Okoronkwo (defender), Ademola Bankole (goalkeeper), Efe Sodje (defender), Taye Taiwo (Left-Back), Efan Ekoku (Forward), Obafemi Martins (Forward), Wilfred Ndidi (Midfield), Seyi Olofinjana (Midfield), Kelechi Iheanacho (Forward)

This article was most recently revised and updated 4 weeks ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter.