Who are the greatest Nigerian players to play in Italian Serie A?
Nigeria have produced lots of sensational footballers the world have ever known. The likes of Okocha whom lele regarded as one of the best 100 dribblers of all time in football or even Kanu that became the gem of Arsenal, not forgetting Mikel Obi that helped Chelsea win titles. Nigerians have shown that they are also a group to reckon with in the world of football.
Serie A is Italy’s top flight football league where big names in football have played and still play like Cristiano Ronaldo, Totti, Kaka, Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, Ibrahimovic, Beckham and many more. Nigerians have also graced this league, won titles and played pivotal roles in some popular clubs in Serie A.
In this article, in no particular order, we list out the 5 best Nigerian footballers who have played in Italian Serie A.
When he scored a stunning shot against Spain in the 1998 FIFA World Cup to secure victory for his country over the Europeans, the Nigerian footballer’s stock rose.
He played for Reggiana and moved to Cologne after an impressive spell with the Teste quadra, then Ajax and later to Juventus, with whom he won the Intertoto Cup in 1999.
He was a technically talented midfielder with a strong ability to pass and played about 40 domestic Italian league games.
In January 2006, at the age of 31, after playing half a season for the Belgian club Genk, Oliseh retired from professional football.
During an unforgettable four-year stint in Italian football, Taribo West represented both Internazionale and AC Milan, first appearing at the Auxerre Nerazzurri, where he had captured a French double.
In Inter’s UEFA Cup final win over Lazio, the center-back was sent off, but his time with Italy basically ended shortly after his arrival at AC Milan, where he managed 4 appearances.
He moved to England in 2000, then declared his retirement in 2008 after changing clubs.
One of the best Nigerian player of all time, despite his many achievements with Ajax and Arsenal, Kanu’s stint at Internazionale is not be be easily forgotten.
In 1996, in what was his best year, when he inspired Nigeria to the Olympic gold medal, the frontman joined Inter for $4.7 million and received the African Footballer of the Year award.
However, the diagnosis of a serious heart condition dominated Kanu’s tenure at Inter, which deprived him the chance to have a larger effect on Inter.
The Nigerian, with his thunderous speed, acceleration and pace, captured the eye of football fans in in Serie A and indeed around Europe.
His first club in Europe was Reggiana, where he broke into the first team and caught the attention of Inter Milan scouts after only two games for the Teste quadre, who promptly signed him in 2001 for €750,000.
He scored 23 goals for Inter’s primavera side in his first season, assisting them to the Italian Under-18 title and this form culminated in an opportunity to impress and feature in the first team.
Recently, signing for Shanghai Shenhua that will double his salary, Martins returned to the Chinese Super League to substitute Odion Ighalo who left for Manchester United on loan.
When he signed for AC Milan in 2011, Taiwo ended a glittering six-year stint at Olympique de Marseille, but, unfortunately, his promising career never really recovered.
Under Massimiliano Allegri, the left-back battled for game time in Milan, then joined Queens Park Rangers on loan eight months later.
In 2013, he finally left for Bursaspor, at which point his international career was culminating.
Taiwo, who has been named three times in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season, was also among the Ligue champions in 2010.
Since the 1994 era, Christian Obodo has been seen by many as one of the most skillful and versatile midfielders to play for the Super Eagles.
He transferred to Perugia and, when the team returned to Serie A in 2004, Fiorentina later signed him as a central part of their renovation. They purchased just half the registration rights and later Perugia won the auction, but sold him to Udinese immediately and was a key player. He moved to SC Olhanense later on.
In Greece, he is now playing for Apollon Smyrnis