In our last piece about Nigerian players that have played for English clubs and those that still play for them, we made mention of Arsenal as the luckiest of English clubs who have had a blissful relationship with Nigerian players.
But looking at Arsenal’s rival, Chelsea, the Blues also can boast of celebrating some players of Nigerian descent at one point or the other. Up to date, The set of Ghanian players that have featured for Chelsea stands at 3. Michael Essien, Baba Rahman and Christian Atsu.
Unlike many other African countries, Nigeria has produced fantastic players that have gone on to represent European clubs brilliantly – truly, Nigeria is a big brother to many African Nations football-wise.
Here are Nigerian Players That Have Played & Still Playing For Chelsea
Ike Dominique Ugbo
Ike Dominique Ugbo is a 22-year-old British-Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a forward for Roda JC in the Dutch Eerste Divisie on loan from Chelsea.
He began his career with Chelsea at under-10 level turning professional in 2015. The young attacker has represented England at under-17 and under-20 level.
In June 2017, Ugbo also scored once in three appearances as England’s under-20 side won the Toulon Tournament. He moved to Roda JC in the second tier of Dutch Eredivisie in August 2019.
Celestine Hycieth Babayaro
Babayaro, 41 years old, spent the larger part of his career playing in the Premier League, mainly for Chelsea from 1997 to 2005. He was signed by Chelsea after being spotted by scout Lewis Durkin in April 1997.
He moved for a transfer fee of £2.25 million, a club record paid for a teenager at the time. He made his debut in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup against Slovan Bratislava. During his playing days, Celestine played as a defender and as a midfielder.
Tariq is a 21-year-old versatile midfielder that is eligible to represent both England and Nigeria. He received his first England call-up at the Under-18 level in late 2016. He currently plays for Chelsea’s academy
Faustino Adebola Rasheed Anjorin
Tino Anjorin is another young midfielder of Nigerian descent, he was born in Poole, United Kingdom. Having represented England at the U-17, U-18 and U-19 levels, he’s, however, eligible to play for the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
Anjorin joined Chelsea ‘s development center program at the under-7 level, officially signing with the club at the under-9 level. On 30 April 2018, Anjorin scored in the second leg of Chelsea’s 2017–18 FA Youth Cup win against Arsenal.
Temitayo Olufisayo Olaoluwa Aina
Super Eagles defender, Ola Aina, signed for Chelsea as an under-11 and made his youth team debut as a schoolboy in the 2012–13 season. Aina has represented England at under-16, under-17, under-18, under-19 and England under-20 levels.
Aina pledged his international future to Nigeria and obtained a Nigerian passport in preparation for making the switch from England to Nigeria in May 2017. In the same month, he was called up to the Super Eagles for the first time to represent Nigeria. He currently plays for the Italian SerieA side, Torino.
Here’s another British-Nigerian who’s currently playing for The Blues. Barkley was born in Liverpool on the 5th of December, 1993 in Merseyside. He joined Everton as an 11-year-old and played for the club’s youth teams.
Before making his full international debut for the Three Lions, he had represented England at under-16, under-17, under-19, under-20, and under-21. He made his full debut in 2013 for England at the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier and was selected in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad for UEFA Euro 2016 but did not appear in any of England’s matches.
READ ALSO: 5 Of The Funniest Footballers Of All Time
Dominic Ayodele Solanke-Mitchell
Solanke was born on the 14th of September 1997 in Reading, Berkshire to a Nigerian father and an English mother. Solanke started his career with Chelsea, making his first-team debut in October 2014. He signed for Liverpool in July 2017, making 27 appearances before joining AFC Bournemouth in January 2019.
Solanke has represented England at all youth, under-21 and senior levels. He has won the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship and the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup with his country and received the Golden Ball award for best player in the latter tournament.
Oluwafikayomi Oluwadamilola Tomori
Fikayo has represented both Canada and England at the youth level. Mainly playing as a center-back, Tomori can also play as a right-back, he currently plays as a defender for Premier League club Chelsea and the England national team.
Tomori was eligible to represent Nigeria at the international level through his parents but On 3 October 2019, Tomori received his first call-up to the England senior squad for the much anticipated Euro 2020 qualifying matches. He later said he was committed to playing for England, following interest from Nigeria and Canada.
Kevin Oghenetega Tamaraebi Bakumo-Abraham
If there’s one country with a tremendous number of Nigerian born players, that country will definitely have to be England. Tammy Abraham is another player of Nigerian descent that plies his trade with Chelsea but will never represent the Super Eagles.
Prior to receiving his first competitive cap for the England senior team in October 2019, Abraham was eligible to represent Nigeria through his paternal lineage and was sounded out by the Nigerian Football Association but refused outrightly to represent Nigeria.
Kenneth Josiah Omeruo
Omeruo signed for Chelsea from Standard Liege in January 2012 but never made headway into Chelsea’s senior team as his exploits for The Blues was only for Chelsea’s Academy Youth Team. Right after that period, it’s been one club on loan to another for the Nigeria international.
On 15 August 2018, Omeruo joined CD Leganés on a season-long loan. In October 2018 he stated that he was enjoying playing in Spain, and in March 2019 he said he wanted to sign for Leganés permanently.
On 13 August 2019, Omeruo returned to Leganés, this time on a permanent deal, ending his seven-year spell at Chelsea.
The second best Nigerian for Chelsea is Lagos born Player. Although, he spent most of his career as a Chelsea player on loan at clubs like Crystal Palace, Wigan, Liverpool, Fernabahçe, Stoke City and Westham United.
Having endured some loan spells across English clubs, Moses enjoyed life under Antonio Conte with his 3-4-3 formation in which Moses played a pivotal role in Chelsea’s route to winning the EPL in that period.
When Mauricio Sarri came to Chelsea, Moses again became surplus to requirement and had to leave on loan to Turkey to play for Fernabahçe. After the Fenerbahçe deal was cut short, Moses signed for Inter Milan on a six-month loan deal with an option to buy on 23 January 2020. A deal that made his return to his former boss at the San Siro, Antonio Conte.
John Obi Mikel
Here comes Nigerian greatest player for Chelsea FC. Mikel spent 11 years (2006-2017) at the West London outfit and in those years, many trophies were won by the Ex-Super Eagles’ midfielder.
Just as Victor Moses is loved by Antonio Conte, Mikel was also loved by Jose Mourinho during his days at the Bridge. So much so that when the French veteran midfielder (Claude Makélélé) left for Paris St Germain in 2008, leaving the defensive midfield position vacant.
Throughout the 2008–09 season, Mikel saw a great deal of playing time due to an injury to Michael Essien. During this period of increased action, Mikel performed admirably in the role.
Also, he served faithfully under managers like Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Di Mateo, and Rafael Benitez. Mikel left England in 2017 as 4 times winner of The English FA Cup, 2 League Cup (Carabao Cup), 2 English Premier League, 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 Europa League and 1 Community Shield. A total of 11 laurels won. A Legend!
7 Of The Most Loyal Football Players
When it comes to loyalty and commitment in the beautiful game, there are few football players who are able to pledge their allegiance and refused to be swayed by big offers. For every Ashley Cole, there’s also a Totti.
There are players who when they reach their potentials, will get easily swayed by money and the probable fame that will follow their transition to other clubs. While other players would simply remain at their current club because of the love they have for the club.
The first set of players who leave the club when bigger clubs come calling are always remembered for their exploits while at the club. But, the second type of football player who ignores the temptations of leaving their ‘most loved’ football club sides is regarded as heroes.
Meanwhile, there are some known players who have showcased utmost loyalty for their respective clubs. For instance, Francesco Totti waved off Real Madrid’s offer in 2006, stating AS Roma as his family and he’s never seen a situation where a child would leave his poor parents to go live with rich strangers.
But what about other unpopular loyal players like Francesco Totti, Stephen Gerrard or even Mark Noble?.
Here’s a list of 7 most loyal football players
- David Zibung (Goalkeeper) – FC Luzern (18 Years +)
The life of this Swiss goalkeeper has been all about his boyhood club, FC Luzern. The +37-year old was born in Hergiswil which is in the Nidwalden region in Switzerland.
He joined the youth team of FC Luzern in 1999 and was there till 2003. Zibung grew in leaps and bounds with the Luzern main team, ever since he broke into the first team, he’s never for once considered leaving the club.
Technically, Zibung would’ve spent eighteen years at Luzern by July 2021. But he’s definitely spent more than eighteen years given that he’s been at the club’s feeder team before 2003.
Zibung remains one of the oldest and longest-serving loyal goalkeepers of the Swiss League.
- Hidekazu Otani (Midfielder) – Kashiwa Reysol (18 Years)
Otani is a midfielder of note, who joined his one and only club in 2000 as a teenager. Now 36 years-old, Okami has been deployed in many parts of the midfield but his natural position is the defensive midfield where he plays comfortably well.
The Japanese veteran midfielder has on numerous occasions been offered to leave his club but his love for the Sun King club has held him back so much so that he’s willing to retire at the club when the time comes.
While some quarters may believe that Hidekazu Okani had been at Kashiwa for eighteen years, the fans of the club see him as an integral part of the club’s history given that he’s won laurels with the club severally.
- Igor Akinfeev (Goalkeeper) – CSKA Moscow (18 Years)
Akinfeev is probably the most popular player we’re x-raying in this Exposé. Akinfeev, Russian, is the Russian National Team goalkeeper and captain, as well as his club side, CSKA Moscow.
History has it that the 34-year old shot-stopper has been at CSKA Moscow since the age of four. His father sent him to the Sports School of CSKA where he began his goalkeeping career and won the Russian Junior Championship in 2002 with the CSKA Moscow team.
Akinfeev would make his debut for CSKA Moscow at sixteen, precisely 2001 where he saved a penalty and also had a clean sheet. He has played over five hundred matches for CSKA Moscow, winning six Russian Cup titles, six Russian Premier League titles as well as the 2005 UEFA Cup with the club.
His incredible rise to stardom is down to his personality and ingenuity as a goalkeeper. He’s arguably the best goalkeeper the Russian nation has ever produced and has been on several international tournaments for the country since he joined the national team.
It may sound bizarre but Akinfeev has spent thirty years at the Red-blues. That is a huge commitment mixed with loyalty.
READ ALSO: 7 of the Best Fitness Coaches In Football
- Ismed Sofyan (Defender) – Persita Jakarta (18 Years)
Talking about the most loyal player, Sofyan’s loyalty isn’t about his club alone, it’s for his country and his country’s elite league, The Indonesian Super League – Not that he’s an amateur.
Yes, he may have played for a couple of club sides in the Indonesian league, but his love and unwavering support for his country is immeasurable.
Sofyan currently plays for Persita Jakarta, a club he joined in 2002 that has made him become the longest-serving player in the club until now. The 41year-old right full-back is a free-kick specialist. He was only privileged to play for the Indonesian National Team for just 53 times.
- Dean Lewington (Defender) – Milton Keynes Dons FC (18 Years)
As of July 2020, Lewinton is the longest-serving player for a single club in English League having spent sixteen years with The Dons.
The English left-back joined MK Dons after a successful spell with Wimbledon in 2004. Lewington, 32, has made over seven hundred appearances with more than 250 different team-mates.
He’s witnessed two promotions and relegations as the club’s captain for the years he’s been at MK Dons and he’s grateful for the sort of longevity he’s had.
He told daily mail in 2016 ‘It’s not like the Premier League where you get five-year deals. It is one or two years. When we won promotion to the Championship in 2015, I was out of contract on the final day as we were celebrating.’
- Koji Homa (Goalkeeper) – Mito HollyHock (21 Years)
Undoubtedly a popular figure in the Japanese league, the 43-year-old goalkeeper currently plays for the above-named club in the second tier of the Japanese League, J2.
After graduating from high school, he joined the J1 League side Urawa Reds in 1996 but couldn’t play more often before crossing to Mito HollyHock in 1999 and never looked back.
He’s helped Mito HollyHock achieve some amazing feats since he joined in 1999 with the biggest of them being the promotion of the club to J2 in 2000.
In his twenty-one-year sojourn with the club, Koji Homma holds the record for the player with the highest number of matches played in J2.
- Lee Casciaro (Forward) – Lincoln Red Imps (22 Years)
The 38-year-old Gibraltar striker scored the only goal of the game when his Gibraltarian minnows club (Lincoln Red Imps) shocked Celtic and to a larger extent, the rest of Europe in their Champions League qualifier at the Victoria Stadium in 2016,
Cascario, 39, has been at the club since he was eight years old and has spent twenty-three years as a first-team member.
It should be agreed that Lincoln Red Imps was made for Cascario, given that two of his younger brothers have played for the club as well.
With three international goals, Lee Henry Cascario is currently Gibraltar’s all-time goalscorer since the 33,684 populated nation joined UEFA.
- Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao): 11 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Tarantini (Rio Ave): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Stefan Radu (Lazio): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Vincent Manceau (Angers SCO): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Anthony Lopes (Lyon): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Koke (Atletico Madrid): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Roberto Torres (Osasuna): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Gerard Pique (Barcelona): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow): 12 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Mario Gaspar Perez (Villarreal): 12 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Guilherme (Lokomotiv Moscow): 13 years, 1 month, 3 days
- Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur): 13 years, 1 month, 10 days
- Volodymyr Chesnakov (Vorskla Poltava): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
- Mahmut Tekdemir (Istanbul Basaksehir): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
- Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
- Sergio Busquets (Barcelona): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
- Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar Donetsk): 13 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Anton Shunin (Dynamo Moscow): 13 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Marcelo (Real Madrid): 13 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Sammy Bossut (Zulte Waregem): 14 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid): 15 years, 4 days
- Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Francesco Magnanelli (Sassuolo): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Jessy Moulin (Saint-Etienne): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Oier (Osasuna): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Sergio Alvarez (Celta de Vigo): 16 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Mark Noble (West Ham United): 16 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Lionel Messi: (Barcelona): 16 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Denis Sinyayev(FC Avangard Kursk)18 years
- Ismaeil Matar (Al-Wahda): 19 years
- Petr Literak(Frýdek-Místek): 22 years
Erling Haaland: The Story Behind His Striking Rise
Erling Haaland was always going to become the ultimate striker and probably the best number 9 on the planet. Also, there’s every possibility that one day, he may become a Ballon D’or winner. But, there’s still one mystery, how did he become the cyborg that he is today?
Haaland continues to be a goal machine, becoming the quickest player in history to reach 20 Champions League goals. His goal from the spot in the UCL round-16 second leg tie against Sevilla was his 20th goal in just 14 appearances in the competition, which broke Harry Kane’s previous record of 24 games.
“Of course he’s fast, powerful, good around the goal and he’s got real soccer sense. But it’s more of his energy, it’s his infectious personality that I think is like a magnet; it draws people to him, it makes people want to be around him.” Those are the words of Red Bull Salzburg manager, Jesse Marsch.
Grab a handful of popcorn and sit back as we unfold the story behind the rise of this Norwegian beast, goal machine, and keeper’s nightmare, Erling Braut Haaland.
Haaland’s Salzburg Breakthrough
As at when Jesse Marsch was appointed as Salzburg manager, Haaland had been at the club for about six months and had only played one game. And then he went to the U-20 World Cup where he scored nine goals in one game.
From his Salzburg debut, Haaland, who had already impressed at the Norwegian league with Bryne and Molde left observers with no doubt about the quality he possesses.
He would become one of the best strikers on the planet because the talent in him was very obvious. In a chat with oh-my-goal, Jesse Marsch revealed that Haaland’s personality was the first thing he fell in love with about Haaland.
“The first couple of days I worked with him, what impressed me more than anything else was his personality on the pitch. He was just relentless! He worked harder than anyone.”
But beyond his raw talent in Salzburg, Erling Haaland left his mark on the locker room with his personality. He had a smile on his face and got along incredibly well with his teammates. Therefore, it wasn’t just his talent, it was his overall energy.
Erling in person had a really positive influence on his teammates. Erling the player, was a selfish assassin who scored 29 goals in 27 appearances for the Austrian club.
Meanwhile, he also always talked about making his teammates happy. “The best memory I Had of him was when we were getting penalties in just about every game, and he was giving them to all the other attacking players.“
“And then, after a player missed a penalty, I said Ok, Erling has to take the penalties and I told him he would be taking the penalties”
“It’s incredible to have such a talented player who loves to score goals, be the one that is giving the penalty responsibilities to the others because he wants them to feel the power of success, the power of scoring goals, and the power of confidence. That says a lot to me about the character of Erling.” Marsch revealed.
At 19, when most people think about personal glory, Haaland was already a perfect teammate and a future leader which was unprecedented for a player as good as he was and in his age range.
Without a doubt, Haaland’s personality was great enthusiastic and it did really have a big effect on a lot of people at Salzburg.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Influence
Erling Haaland may owe his incredible rise to his immense talent and his positive leadership qualities. But that’s not all, Cristiano Ronaldo also played a huge role in Haaland’s evolution.
People often say that Erling Haaland is the next Cristiano Ronaldo but is the CR7 comparison justified?
Certainly, Erling is more of a pure striker than Cristiano but from a power football perspective, his ability in the transition to affect games like the Portuguese ace makes the comparison justifiable.
Haaland himself admitted that Cristiano Ronaldo was his role model but if like Cristiano, Erling broke all the goalscoring records, it’s not really the part of football that CR7 has influenced.
Haaland is following in Cristiano Ronaldo’s footsteps in terms of leadership and he even is now a role model to many players just like Ronaldo was to him.
Cristiano Ronaldo has had positive effects on his teammates and in every team, he’s played in which really helped him overtime right from his days at Manchester United and Real Madrid. But for Erling, one could really see that right from his young age that it’s a natural quality he has.
It will be up to Haaland to continue to modify that aspect of himself and mold that in a way that he can become a really strong leader within his teams as he continues to grow older.
Above all, Haaland took inspiration from Cristiano Ronaldo in one essential area, work ethic. Like CR7, he’s always hungry to improve. “He really worked hard a lot. After training, he would stick around to finish, to hit some crosses, to work on his heading.” – Jesse Marsch, RB Salzburg Coach.
Like CR7, Erling Haaland thinks every little detail counts. He would wear special glasses because he felt like when you look at your computer all day long or your cell phone, that your eyes would start to fade and so he had that special glasses he always wears.
And while he has his own personality, Erling is directly inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo especially when it comes to nutrition and work ethic by picking the most hardworking professional football player in history as his role model.
Perfect With BVB
Borussia Dortmund activated his €20 million (£17m/$22m) release clause, beating United and Leipzig to his signature after all three clubs held meetings with the player, his father, and agent Mino Raiola.
Borussia Dortmund already had forward Paco Alcacer on the books, but saw Haaland as such a generational talent, that they were willing to offload the Spain international to give the Norwegian teen an even better chance of success.
CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke says that they had been looking for someone with Haaland’s particular skill set for a long time and could not pass up the opportunity to sign him.
“We always wanted to have a center-forward who has a different way of playing football,” Watzke told Goal and DAZN. “But this guy also had to come onto the market first.
There are not many who are 1.94 meters (6 ft 4 in) tall and that fast. Actually, nobody else comes to mind. It was just an opportunity that you don’t get very often. – Goal.com
Dortmund offered the striker the best chance of regular game time as they promised to make him their first-choice striker, something Alf-Inge Haaland admits is crucial to his development.
Haaland’s Dortmund story got off to the perfect start with the most incredible debut against Augsburg. Trailing 3-1, Lucien Favre sent on the teenager from the bench and was rewarded with a 22-minute hat-trick to help secure a 5-3 win.
Having revealed all the secrets that make Haaland an outstanding striker, in all honesty, the Norwegian striker has no limit because he keeps getting better at Dortmund.
He was incredible at Salzburg. “We were obviously so sad to lose him so quickly because we had a lot of fun and success with him, but we’re also very proud of him and we’re really excited to see him continue to push himself and move forward and show everybody in the world how good he is.”
And today, he’s showing just how good he is in Germany. He used to only be seen as a superpowered and superfast goalscorer. But at Dortmund? He’s also shown his technical advances and his in-game intelligence and influence.
He’s more and more capable of keeping the ball, playing in different positions, taking part in the game, in short, he’s become the ultimate striker.
Giving his unique skill-set and amazing personality, he will definitely sign for a bigger club in years to come. Yes, he may experience some difficulties, but his quality will help him manage whatever challenge that comes his way and in-turn become the best number 9 of not only his generation but in football history.