As the second week of the 2015/2016 English Premier League (EPL) season trudges on this weekend, expectations would be sky high as players will seek to secure national team call-ups or secure their places on the team with outstanding performances.
And with most top Nigerian players retaining their clubs, Naij.com takes a look at the top 10 greatest Nigerian players to have played in the EPL, including those who are still playing.
10. Victor Moses (Wigan, Stoke, Liverpool, Chelsea)
He was first discovered as a Crystal Palace winger in the Championship before being snapped up by then Wigan coach, Roberto Martinez. Following some spectacular performances with the modest English club, Moses caught the eye of Jose Mourinho, who brought the player to Chelsea.
The player was loaned to Liverpool and then Stoke City, before returning to Chelsea at the end of last season. He won the UEFA Cup with The Blues in the 2012/2013 and was a star player for the Super Eagles of Nigeria at the 2013 Nations Cup triumph.
If Moses can churn out impressive performances weekly, it will not be too long before he registers himself as one of the greatest Nigerians to grace the EPL.
9. Obafemi Martins (Newcastle, Birmingham)
Obafemi Martins, popularly called ‘Obagoal’ for his goalscoring prowess, will not be forgotten in a haste by football enthusiasts in the EPL, especially for his thunderbolt strike for Newcastle against Tottenham Hotspur.
The 20-yard shot rocketed into the net and was immediately was clocked by Sky Sports at a speed of 84 mph (135 km/h), making it unofficially the ninth hardest shot ever recorded in football history, according to the Guardian website.
Martins, who was handed the prestigious 9 jersey, previously worn by club and England legend, Alan Shearer, could only win the Intertoto Cup with the Magpies before scoring the opening goal for Birmingham against Arsenal in their 2011 League Cup win over the ‘Gunners’.
The one-time Inter Milan of Italy star man, presently plies his trade with Seattle Sounders in the American Major League Soccer, as one of the league’s strongest players.
8. Celestine Babayaro (Chelsea, Newcastle)
One of Nigeria’s players on this list to play for a club for at least seven consecutive seasons, Celestine Babayaro held sway as Chelsea’s left full back from 1997-2004, after signing from Anderlecht.
To show how badly they needed him, Chelsea paid £2.25million, a club record for a teenager at the time, to convince the Belgian side to sell him to them.
Babayaro, who would later move to Newcastle, won the UEFA Super Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup with Chelsea in 1998, and was also part of the FA Cup winning-side in 2000.
He was a delight to watch, more with his trademark back flips and dashing foray forward from his defensive position.
The one time golden boy of Chelsea, retired from football on 2010 and was declared bankrupt the following year.
7. Daniel Amokachi (Everton)
Daniel ‘The Bull’ Amokachi became the first Nigerian player to play in the EPL when he starred for Everton after his exploits for Nigeria at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
He was also the first player to score in the new format of the UEFA Champions League, after his goal secured a 1–0 win in the opening match in the group stage against CSKA Moscow before his Everton move.