Why these great Nigerian Players never played in the premier league?. Nigeria players who are undoubtedly blessed with spirited and gifted footballers , which many of them played at the highest levels for different clubsides both in Europe and other parts of the world during their playing days, but never played in the premier league.
Right from time immemorial, the best and biggest leagues in the world has always been in Europe, namely the English Premier League, the Spanish LaLiga, Italian SerieA, German Bundesliga and the French Ligue1 – Hence, the hunger for players of African decent to play in England.
However, some of Nigerian players despite their talents didn’t have the opportunity to lace their boots for any of the English Clubs throughout their careers, some did play for English clubs but not in the English Premier League but other leagues in Europe, while some never played for any club outside Nigeria.
Not playing in the Premier doesn’t make them bad players but it’s certain that if only they’ve played for English club(s), it would have boosted their profiles, they would’ve enjoyed more popularity and respect in the world of football.
Sportyleagues have compiled the names of great Nigerian Ex-internationals players that never had the opportunity of playing for any English clubside(s) in the Premier League. Here they are:
1. Uche Okechukwu
Okechukwu was an integral part of Nigeria’s AFCON 1994 winning squad and was instrumental for Bonfere Jo in Nigeria’s victory at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
He became a notable figure during his time at Nwanyanwu Nationale which fast tracked his transition from the Nigerian league to Brondby in Denmark in 1990 before making it to Turkey to play for Fernabahçe in 1993 and Istanbulspor between 2002 and 2006.
The lanky defender despite his experience, defensive ability and his meaningful impact for clubs he played for, was never signed by any of the English clubs till he retired.
Till date, Okechukwu is one of the best center backs Nigerian ever had.
2. Rashidi Yekini
The late goal scoring machine is till dated Nigeria’s all time goal scorer in international football. Yekini during his playing days, played for some notable clubs in Europe but never for an English club despite spending eight years in Europe.
His goal scoring prowess made him popular while in Europe. And he’s still been celebrated by his former clubs which includes Sporting Gijon of Spain, Vitoria Setubal of Portugal, FC Zurich of Switzerland and Olympiakos in Greece – Quite unfortunate.
3. Segun Odegbami
Odegbami earned for himself 46 caps for the Nigerian national team, it could have been more if he had played outside Nigeria as the few time he was chanced to play outside the shores of Nigeria was on only National duty.
The ‘Mathematical’ Odegbami only played for IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan between 1970 and 1984. As a national team player, he guided the Green Eagles to the first ever AFCON glory hosted by Nigeria in 1980.
4. Muda Lawal
Another member of the famous and conquering Green Eagles team in 1980. Nigerian footballers cannot be talked about without making mention of Mudashiru Babatunde Lawal even after his death.
Just like Odegbami, Muda Lawal only played outside Nigeria while he was on National duties. Formerly an automobile mechanic, Lawal played for three different clubsides in the South Western region of Nigeria, (Shooting Stars, Stationery Stores and Abiola Babes) and those were the best clubs at that time.
He was a midfielder of note, his club career spanned for sixteen years in which he starred for Shooting Stars of Ibadan (twice), Stationery Stores of Lagos and Abiola Babes
5. Teslim Balogun
Unlike Segun Odegbami and Muda Lawal, Teslim Thunder Balogun actually played for some clubsides in England but not in the Premier League.
The gangling attacker was a lover of shooting shots, and this brought about his popularity while playing in the Nigeria local league and nicknames, ‘Thunder’ and ‘Balinga’.
In 1961, Balinga retired from active football and went into the coaching business. He became the first African to be called a professional coach and also led Nigeria to the 1968 Summer Olympics.
Thunder until his death in 1972 was a legend of Nigerian football. After his death, the multi-purpose stadium (now Teslim Balogun Stadium) in Lagos was named after Balinga.
6. Samson Siasia
Here comes another member of the 1994 FIFA World Cup squad as well as the AFCON winning squad same in 1994.
Before he moved outside Nigeria, he played for Julius Berger, Flash Flamingoes and Elkanemi Warriors in domestic league.
He also had spells in European countries namely France, Australia, Belgium, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Israel. And he’s one of the few Ex-Super Eagles Stars to have played and manager Nigerian national teams.
Siasia was a prolific goal scorer for both club and countries during his playing days, but his success as a player was with FC Nantes in the French league. He guided the club to the League glory in 1994.
As a coach, Siasia has managed Nigeria’s U20 side (2005), same as the U23 in 2008 and 2016 winning silver and bronze on both occasions.
He’s had the chance of handling Super Eagles on two different occasions when the team found itself in some precarious situations. He didn’t last more than a year at both periods.
Babajide Adewunmi – EverBlazin