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Wednesday 04 June 2014

Around the World: Nigeria and the Barclays Premier League

Ahead of the FIFA 2014 World Cup a look at the Nigerian influence on the BPL

A look at the players from the African nation to have graced the Barclays Premier League

Ahead of the FIFA 2014 World Cup, which starts on 12 June, premierleague.com looks at the 31 nations outside of England who are competing in Brazil and their influence on the Barclays Premier League.

Nigeria have qualified for four previous FIFA World Cups, reaching the round of 16 on their first two appearances, in 1994 and 1998, and exiting at the group stage thereafter. On this occasion the Super Eagles are in Group F with Argentina, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Iran.

Six players who were on the books of Barclays Premier League clubs during the 2013/14 season have been called up to Stephen Keshi's 23-man squad, including Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel, Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi and Stoke City forward Peter Odemwingie. Also in the party are Kenneth Omeruo, who signed a new deal with Chelsea this week, after a loan spell at Middlebsrough, Victor Moses, who was loaned by Chelsea to Liverpool last season and defender Joseph Yobo, who spent the second half of last season at Norwich City, on loan from Fenerbahce.

In total, 30 players from Nigeria have graced the Barclays Premier League (21st in the rankings by nation), making 2,721 appearances in total. They have been responsible for 414 goals.

The first Nigerian to appear in the Barclays Premier League was Efan Ekoku, for Norwich against Manchester United, in April 1993. The striker was also the first to score in the competition, four days later, against Tottenham Hotspur.

Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi leads the way in the number of appearances (294), and is one of 12 players to have accumulated over 100 BPL appearances. The leading Nigerian goalscorer is Yakubu, who mustered 95 top-flight goals for Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton and Blackburn Rovers.

Nigerians in Barclays Premier League
Total players in BPL history 30
Total BPL appearances 2,721
Total BPL goals 414

First Nigerian to play in the Barclays Premier League
Efan Ekoku
- Norwich City (v Manchester United, 5 April, 1993)

Top 10 BPL appearances by Nigerians
Shola Ameobi 294
Kanu 273
Yakubu 252
Joseph Yobo
228
John Obi Mikel
206
Celestine Babayaro
179
Efan Ekoku
160
Victor Anichebe
155
Jay Jay Okocha
124
Peter Odemwingie
117

First Nigerian to score in the Barclays Premier League
Efan Ekoku - Norwich (v Tottenham Hotspur, 9 April, 1993)

Top 10 Nigerian goalscorers in BPL
Yakubu 95
Kanu 54
Efan Ekoku
52
Shola Ameobi
43
Peter Odemwingie
36
Obafemi Martins
28
Victor Anichebe
20
Jay Jay Okocha
14
Ade Akinbiyi
11
Daniel Amokachi 10
Victor Moses
10

Nigeria's provisional 23-man FIFA World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Lille), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be'er Sheva), Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United).
Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (Monaco), Efe Ambrose (Celtic), Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor), Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), Kenneth Omeruo (Chelsea), Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC), Joseph Yobo (on loan at Norwich City from Fenerbahce), Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars).
Midfielders: John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Ramon Azeez (Almeria), Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio), Reuben Gabriel (Waasland-Beveren), Michael Uchebo (Cercle Brugge).
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United), Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce), Peter Odemwingie (Stoke), Victor Moses (Chelsea, on loan at Liverpool), Uche Nwofor (Heerenveen), Nichael Babatunde (Volyn).

  • Efan Ekoku was the first Nigerian to both appear and score in the Barclays Premier League

  • With 95 goals Yakubu is the leading BPL goalscorer from Nigeria

  • Kanu is second on the list of Nigerian goalscorers and appearances-makers in the BPL

  • Newcastle's Shola Ameobi has made the most appearances in the BPL

  • Stoke's Peter Odemwingie joins Ameobi on Nigeria's plane to Brazil

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Key Points

  • Ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup we look at the influence of players from 31 participating nations outside England on the BPL
  • Next in series looks at players from Nigeria in the Barclays Premier League
  • Shola Ameobi is the Nigerian with the most BPL appearances, while Efan Ekoku was the first to appear in the competition