Footballers are journey men. During their career, which may span over two decades or more, some players transverse the world, playing from one league to the other. But some others are not that lucky like Evangelist Ebenezer Obe’s “Ajala” who traveled all over the world, but choose to stay in one or two clubs through out their career.
Today, we are beaming our searchlight on the top 10 most traveled Nigerian footballers. We will represent each country the player played with a club or two and not necessarily mentioning all the clubs he featured for in that particular country. Enjoy it…
1. Brown Ideye: He is surprisingly Nigeria’s most traveled footballer and not Austin Okocha nor Nwankwo Kanu. The South Africa 2013 AFCON winner, played in 9 different countries during his career to make him number one on the list. Ideye featured in the ranks of top clubs like
Neuchâtel Xamax in Switzerland, Sochaux in France, Dynamo Kyiv in Ukraine, West Bromwich Albion in England, Olympiacos in Greece, Tianjin Teda in China, Málaga in Spain, Göztepe in Turkey and Al-Yarmouk in Kuwait amongst others.
2. Benedict Akwuegbu: The “Austrian Bomber” Akwuegbu featured in about eight different countries during his illustrious career as a footballer. He played in countries like France where he featured for Lens. While in Belgium, he donned the colours of Waregem. In Germany, he played for Siegen. Then he was in the pay roll of Grazer AK, Wacker Innsbruck while in Austria. In China, he played for Tianjin Teda. He featured for St. Gallen in Switzerland, Panserraikos in Greece and Basingstoke Town in England to bring the total number of countries he played to 8.
3. Rashidi Yekini: The legendary Yekini who till date remains the country’s all-time highest goals scorer and the player to score Nigeria’s first goal at the world cup, featured for clubs like African Sports in Cote D’Ivoire, Vitoria Setubal Portugal, Olympiacos Greece, Sporting Gijon Spain, FC Zurich Switzerland, Bizerte Tunisia and Al- Shabab Saudi Arabia to bring the number of countries he played to 7. He is one country short of Akwuegbu to share joint third position with the likes of Martins, West as Nigeria’s third most traveled footballer.
4. Obafemi Martins: “Obagol” as he is fondly refered by his numerous fans and admirers is one of Nigeria’s most traveled player behind Brown Ideye and Benedict Akwuegbu. The former Inter Milan of Italy star striker played for Reggiana, Inter Milan while in Italy. He was in the colours of Newcastle United during his time in England. VfL Wolfsburg in Germany, Rubin Kazan in Russia, Levante in Spain, Seattle Sounders in USA and Shanghai Shenhua in China to bring the total number of countries he featured in to 7.
5. Taribo West: Hard tackling West shares a joint third with Yekini and Martins as most traveled Nigerian footballer. West featured for Auxerre in France, Inter Milan, AC Milan in Italy, Derby County in England, FC Kaiserslautern while in Germany, Partizan Belgrade in Serbia, Al- Arabi in Qatar and Paykan in Iran to bring the number of counties he played in to 7, the same as Yekini and Martins.
6. Odion Ighalo: At the moment, Ighalo has featured in 6 different countries and still counting since he is yet to call it quit on his career to make him the fourth most traveled Nigerian footballer. The striker played for Lyn Oslo in Norway, Udinese in Italy, Granada in Spain, Manchester United, Watford in England, Shanghai Shenhua in China and Al Shabab amongst others in Saudi Arabia.
7. Yakubu Aiyegbeni: The big “Yak” like Ighalo played in 6 different countries before he ended his career. He played in Portugal for Gil Vicente, Maccabi Haifa in Israel, Portsmouth, Everton in England, Guangzhou R&F in China, Al- Rayyan in Saudi Arabia and Kayserispor in Turkey.
8. Samson Siasia: He featured for Lokeren in Belgium, Nantes in France, Tirsense in Portugal, Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia, Perth Glory in Australia and Hapoel Tzafririm in Israel to make him one of Nigeria’s most traveled player. He played in 6 different countries just like Ighalo and Aiyegbeni before he called time on his career.
9. Richard Owobokiri: Ricky played for America RJ in Brazil, Victoria Setubal, Benfica in Portugal, Metz in France, Al-Arabi in Qatar and Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia to bring the number of countries he featured in to 5. He’s another Nigerian footballer to have traveled far and wide.
10. Austin Okocha: Jay Jay played for Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany, Fenerbahçe in Turkey, Paris Saint-Germain in France, Bolton Wanderers in England and Qatar SC in Qatar to bring the number of countries Okocha played to 5 to emerge as one of the most traveled Nigerian footballer. The greatly talented player who is one of the best in his generation had the capacity to have done more given his enormous talent.