Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Odion Ighalo and Emmanuel Emenike

Odion Ighalo’s dream move to Manchester United 12 months ago sent Nigerians into a frenzy, as the striker’s surprise transfer resonated around the world. 

With Ighalo’s United spell coming to an end on January 30, the first Nigerian and seventh African to play for the Red Devils casts our minds back to the greatest Nigerian strikers of the last decade, each of whom appeared in the Premier League.

Odion Ighalo

Ighalo’s successful stint at Watford, which yielded 40 goals in 100 games, was followed by a Chinese adventure until his boyhood club came calling in 2020. 

The Africa Cup of Nations 2019 Golden Boot winner scored five goals and one assist in 19 appearances, after joining from Shanghai Shenhua midway through the season. His dazzling displays earned him a loan contract extension as a dream spell provided shrewd success.

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Odion Ighalo

Although his starts came in the cup games, Ighalo was a lethal asset in the box and endeared United fans with his professionalism and attitude. He duly scored their March goal of the month with a superb half-volley in the final match before the Covid-19 lockdown against LASK.

However, the lockdown flipped his fortunes over as injury returns and new signings have since limited Ighalo’s game time. 

The 31-year-old has only one cameo appearance in the Premier League and hasn’t made a matchday squad since October. Ighalo’s four appearances in 2020/21 is an unsurprising total considering the addition of Edinson Cavani.

Nevertheless, the failure to make an emotional appearance against Watford in the FA Cup third round sums up his United career.

Ighalo might have played his last game for United, but a man who scored 16 times in 35 caps for Nigeria will remain a trailblazer. His fairytale at United never to be erased from history.

Emmanuel Emenike

Emmanuel Emenike

Ighalo’s Super Eagles predecessor, Emmanuel Emenike, enjoyed a shorter spell in the Premier League with West Ham. He signed for Slaven Bilić’s Hammers on loan in 2016 where his 13 Premier League appearances yielded no goals. 

However, Emenike was one of the AFCON 2013 heroes as his strike partnership with Brown Ideye propelled Stephen Keshi’s men to a successful tournament. His four goals include the opener in that tournament as well as a 30-yard freekick in the quarterfinal victory against Ivory Coast. 

Emenike earned the top scorer award in 2013 and led the Super Eagles to the 2014 World Cup after which he retired with nine goals from 37 caps. 

Yakubu Aiyegbeni

‘The Yak’ is by far Nigeria’s greatest export to England having scored 95 Premier League goals from 252 games. Yakubu is behind only Didier Drogba(104) and Emmanuel Adebayor(97) as the third-highest scoring African in the competition’s history. 

His record £7.5million for a Nigerian in 2005 to Middlesbrough from Portsmouth proved a bargain as he went on to represent Everton, Leicester, Blackburn, Reading and Coventry. At the end of his Premier League spell with Blackburn, Yakubu had well-earned his reputation as a goal machine with his 17 goals not enough to keep the Rovers from relegation.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni
Despite the deriders not many can match Yakubu’s achievements with the Super Eagles. (Getty Images)

Be that as it may, Yakubu is best remembered for his open-goal miss against South Korea at the 2010 World Cup.

“I have scored so many goals for Nigeria and even when people thought we will never qualify for the World Cup, I stood up to be counted.

“I have always done my best to help the country but it’s weird that people still send me messages till date even on social media about that miss”. Yakubu told Goal

“I never let that affect me because I think only about the good memories”.

Nigeria’s third all-time top scorer with 21 goals from 57 caps is known as a goalscoring icon in the Premier League, but remembered for a costly miss in his homeland. 

Now it is time to have your own say 

Who was your favourite Nigerian striker of the 2010s? Let us know your thoughts in the comments

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Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.


1 comments on “Emenike, Yakubu or Ighalo: Who’s your favourite Nigeria striker?

  1. It’s the YAK for me… Top top striker, protects the ball well and has lethal feet’s…. Feed the YAK and he will score. Legend

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