Nigerians who clashed in the Europa League final

Nigerians who clashed in the Europa League final
Photo by Icon sport

The 2023/24 season is at its tail end, with the Europa League final just around the corner to conclude the end of the season.

The finalists are a big surprise to many fans, as German champions Bayer Leverkusen booked a ticket to face off with Italian side Atalanta.

Bayer Leverkusen made it to the Europa League final in dramatic fashion. They remained unbeaten until they booked their ticket to face off with Italian side Atalanta.

How Die Werkself reached the Europa League final is not the crux of this story. The crux of the matter is that the two sides have Nigerians on their payroll, and the fans will be entertained with a dish with Nigerians on the menu.

So, let's look at the times Nigerians faced off in the Europa League final.

Nigerians in the Europa League final

Only 15 Nigerians have had the chance to play at the highest stage of the Europa League.

Of these 15 players, two of them have featured in multiple finals. The players include Nwankwo Kanu, Taribo West, Chidi Odiah, John Obi Mikel, 

Victor Moses, Samuel Chukwueze, Sunday Oliseh and Joseph Enakarhire.

Others are Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Dickson Etuhu, Elderson Echiejile, Alex Iwobi, Joe Aribo, Calvin Bassey and Leon Balogun.

Only Nwankwo Kanu(2) and Victor Moses (3) have featured in multiple finals, with Moses the only one to win it twice.

In all these, Nigerians have only been lucky to see Nigerians in opposing sides of the Europa League final twice.

Who are these players? What year did they clash, and how did it go?

Check out this expose about when Nigerians faced off in the Europa League final.

When Nigerians clashed in the Europa League final

Joseph Enakarhire (Sporting CP) vs Chidi Odiah (CSKA Moscow) – 2004/05 

Europa League final winners: Chidi Odiah won it with CSKA Moscow
Photo by Icon Sport

Joseph Enakarhire was a Super Eagles stalwart and a constant feature for Sporting CP in their run-up to the Europa League final in 2005.

Enakarhire played all the group-stage games and received a yellow card in the 0-1 home loss to Socaux. 

Sporting Lisbon finished third in a group comprising Newcastle United, Sochaux, Panionios and Dinamo Tbilisi.

Enakarhire only missed three games as Sporting beat Feyenoord (4-2 agg), Middlesbrough (4-2 agg), Newcastle (4-2 

Chidi Odiah started the season for CSKA Moscow in the Champions League. After playing the first two games, he was injured and saw his team drop to the Europa League.

He returned to action in February 2005 as CSKA beat Benfica 2-0 in the Europa League.

Except for the second leg against Benfica, where he played 72 minutes in a 1-1 draw, Odiah played in every game his side played in the tournament and also scored in a 4-0 quarter-final first-leg rout of AJ Auxerre.

2005 Europa League Final

Perhaps this was where José Peseiro fell in love with Nigeria. He returned a fit-again Enakarhire to the starting eleven for Sporting while Odiah was on the opposing side.

Sporting scored first but frittered away several chances in the first half. CSKA came storming back in the second half and duly got their equalizer.

The final saw Odiah put up a solid performance to weather the Sporting storm as he let very little get past him.

Perhaps Enakarhire was culpable for the second and third CSKA goals as the Portuguese side succumbed to a 1-3 loss in the Europa League final.

Besides Enkarhire and Odiah, no other Nigerians have played in opposing sides of the Europa League final.

Victor Moses misses out on Europa League final against Alex Iwobi

Alex Iwobi in Europa League final
Photo by Icon Sport

Victor Moses could have featured for Chelsea in the 2018/19 season when Chelsea beat Alex Iwobi's Arsenal in the Europa League final. 

After playing a couple of games in the group stage, he was loaned to Fenerbahce in the winter transfer window but picked up a winners medal.

Iwobi featured in all Arsenal games except the semi-final against Valencia.

Alex Iwobi came off the bench to score a consolation goal as the Gunners lost 1-4 to the Blues in a London derby to become the second Nigerian to score in a Europa League final after Joe Aribo.

The 2024 Europa League final

Europa League final: Ademola Lookman in action for Atalanta
Credit: Icon Sport

Two teams featuring Nigerians will contest the 2024 Europa League final. Bayer Leverkusen, who reached the final unbeaten will with their Nigerian duo of Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella, will square off against Ademola Lookman for Atalanta.

If all three players feature for their clubs in the final, it will make the second tie Nigerians will be playing on opposing sides of the Europa League final.

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month 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. Chooka has a passion for football and has been a fan of Enugu Rangers (over 30 years) and Real Madrid (Since 1996).