These ten players have represented the West African nation for Premier League clubs, including Arsenal and Newcastle, over the past two decades and done so impressively.
Nigeria has been represented exceptionally throughout the Premier League years, including clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle United, and the imprint established by the men from the West African nation has continually represented strides for the continent.
In honour of players past and present, here is our selection of the best Nigerian players to ever grace the top flight.
10. Peter Odemwingie
Starting off this list is the unpredictable Odemwingie, who set the Premier League alight in his debut season with West Brom back in 2010/11. He scored 15 goals in all competitions that year and went on to strike 11 more times the next year.
Overall he has made over 100 appearances during his time in the Premier League, spanning across spells at the Baggies, Cardiff City and Stoke.
9. Efan Ekoku
One of the very first Nigerians to play in the Premier League and the first to score a hat-trick in the top flight, Efan Ekoku was a history maker in the early 1990s.
Playing for a Norwich side that challenged for the league title during the Premier League’s first ever season, the commanding striker scored 16 times in his 12-month stay at Carrow Road during the 1993/94 season, including the club’s first goal in a European competition.
A five-year spell at Wimbledon followed, and Ekoku continued to maintain his reputation as one of Nigeria’s finest Premier League exports at the time.
8. John Utaka
One of the few Nigerians to have won silverware in England, potent winger Utaka played a vital role in Portsmouth’s FA Cup triumph of 2007, providing the cross for fellow countryman Nwankwo Kanu’s winning strike in the final against Cardiff City.
In a four year stay in the Premier League, Utaka made over 100 appearances for Portsmouth, scoring 10 times before returning to France with Montpellier in 2010.
7. Obafemi Martins
The man with an explosive left foot, Obafemi Martins arrived in the Premier League at Newcastle United with a good goalscoring reputation and while he may not have been consistently incisive, he still delivered.
First playing for Newcastle, Martins struck 17 times in all competitions for the Magpies in his first season, including a thunderbolt against Tottenham, which still stands as one of the hardest shots in Premier League history.
After departing Newcastle for Wolfsburg, the 30-year-old returned to the top flight with Birmingham City in 2011 and scored the winning goal in the Blues’ dramatic League Cup final victory against Arsenal.
6. Celestine Babayaro
One of the few Nigerians to play for one of the Premier League’s top teams, left-back Babayaro notched up over 200 appearances for Chelsea between 1997 and 2005. He is best known for his attack-minded play from the left side of defence and his often acrobatic celebrations.
He also won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the FA Cup during his time at Stamford Bridge, before leaving for Newcastle and announcing his retirement from the game in 2010.
5. Joseph Yobo
Centre-back Yobo is remembered fondly at Everton after a nine-year spell on Merseyside in which he proved to be a defensive rock time and again.
He made north of 200 appearances for the Blues, helping the club to a fourth place finish and Champions League qualification for the first time in its history, during the 2004/05 season. Additionally, he was also an integral part of an Everton side that reached the FA Cup final in 2009.
Yobo was also Everton’s first African captain and its highest appearance holder for an overseas player, a record he held until July 2012.
4. John Obi Mikel
Mikel is the most decorated Nigerian player in the history of English football. Since joining Premier League giants Chelsea in 2006, the midfielder has amassed two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and the Champions League, helping his club to each and every one of those triumphs.
Still at Chelsea and at the age of 29, Mikel still has a few years to add to his trophy cabinet.
The man affectionately known as “the Yak”, Yakubu proved over and over during his Premier League years that he was a certified goal scoring machine.
Across spells at Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton and Blackburn between 2003 and 2012, the indestructible striker scored over 100 times in all competitions and is currently the league’s leading Nigerian goalscorer, with 95 goals.
He is the most potent Nigerian striker to ever play in the Premier League.
2. Jay Jay Okocha
Midfield wizard Jay-Jay Okocha was a fan favourite during his time at Bolton Wanderers, wowing the Bolton faithful with otherworldly skill, amazing vision, great passing and an ability to dictate tempo in the middle of the park.
As the club’s captain he led the Trotters during the years in which the club became an established force in the Premier League, taking the Trotters to the 2004 League Cup final, their first in nine years.
No Nigerian was as graceful on the pitch and as naturally talented as Okocha.
1. Nwankwo Kanu
One of the greatest Nigerian players in the nation’s history and the most decorated, Kanu plied his trade in England for 10 years, but he will be most remembered for his time with Arsenal.
Arriving at Arsenal in 1999, the forward made a slow start to life in England but in his second season, he struck 17 times in all competitions, including a memorable hat-trick against Chelsea.
In five years, Kanu won two Premier League titles, including being part of Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ side of 2003/04, as well as two FA Cups, and added to his list of triumphs with Portsmouth when they won the FA Cup in 2007.