Nigeria’s Impact on European Football Leagues

Football over the years has become a mix and match of players flying the flag of foreign nations, a patchwork of nationalities which reflect modern society. We often marvel at the skills of French or Italian players in the Premier League such as Thierry Henry and Gianluca Vialli as prime examples from the past.

However, what sometimes gets overlooked is the impact which African players, and in particular Nigerian national, have, and are having, on top flight European football. There are several Nigerian players plying their trade in the top leagues of European football, and indeed, far too many to list here.

Let’s take a look at some of the players, their clubs and the impact they have had since arriving at their respective clubs.

Wilfred Ndidi

Wilfred is currently playing for Premier League club Leicester City and has been a standout player since arriving from Genk, way back in 2017 for whom he managed a goal of the season in the Belgium top flight. Playing as a defensive midfielder, he has been a key component in Leicester’s success over the past three years.

He has won international caps with Nigeria, some 35 at the time of writing, and at the age of 23 looks to have a long career ahead of him.

William Troost Ekong

William plays his football for Seri e A outfit Udinese, having joined them from Turkish Super League club Bursaspor. Born in the Netherlands, he qualified for Nigerian status from his father. Currently aged only 26 years, he has won 41 international caps with Nigeria. Playing as a centre back, he has been a rock in Udinese’s defensive set up.

Alex Iwobi

Alex currently plays his football for Everton in the English Premier League since August of 2019, joining from Arsenal for a reported fee on the BBC of some 2 million pounds. There was a lot of speculation around him and which club he would join. Online Nigerian casino and betting sites were split between him joining Everton, Leicester or Brighton, the former winning out, probably because Everton was able to offer the best salary.

Samuel Chukwueze

Samuel is currently playing football for top flight Spanish club Villa Real, joining back in 2017. His favoured position is winger and he has been favourably compared to the Dutch player Arjen Robben. Samuel’s dribbling skills, his ability to accurately pass and cross a ball, combined with his speed and athleticism has also established him in the Nigerian national team, with some 13 appearances since 2018.

Victor Osimhen

Victor Oshimen has been at Lille since July of 2019, signing from Sporting Charleroi to the delight of the Lille supporters. So far in the 2019 – 2020 season, he has scored 17 goals. Given the season has been curtailed by the outbreak of coronavirus, his tally as a forward may well have topped 20 or more goals for the season.

These are just a few of the Nigerian players in Europe’s top leagues all of whom are making a big impact with their clubs, and winning the hearts and minds of the respective supporters. You may have a favourite not mentioned here – perhaps you agree with my favourites.

Either way, Nigerian players are now an established and integral part of Europe’s top professional leagues and are making an impact with their skill and athleticism.

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