Millions of people in the crazy football nation of Nigeria will gather around their televisions on Monday night when Odion Ighalo is expected to make his debut for Manchester United.
The 30-year-old striker, on loan to Shanghai Shenhua Old Trafford club until the end of the season, plays against Chelsea on Stamford Bridge.
There were street parties in Ighalo’s hometown when the news came that he signed for United, a club that enjoys widespread support in the African country.
Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo is going to make his Manchester United debut against Chelsea
Ighalo posted pictures of him as he trained to build up his fitness in the gym
Surprisingly, Ighalo is the first Nigerian to wear the colors of United, but many of their players have honored other teams in the Premier League.
We count a top 10 of the best Nigerian players to participate in the top flight of England.
10. Wilfred Ndidi
Leicester City 2016
We start in the present with one of the most consistently impressive artists at the moment.
Ndidi had to be constantly compared to the man he replaced in the midfield of Leicester, N’Golo Kante, but has proved well and truly that he not only fills the void, but is also a very influential player.
It is no coincidence that the title challenge of Leicester against Liverpool began to fade when the 23-year-old sustained an injury in January.
Ndidi is one of the best in the top flight of England for tackle success, recovering the ball and miles traveled, and he is still young enough to improve his game.
Wilfred Ndidi was one of the most impressive artists of the Premier League this season
9. Shola Ameobi
Newcastle United 2000-2014; Crystal Palace 2015
Few can compare with Ameobi for a long life at one club after his 14 years, 397 appearances and 79 goals for Newcastle United that have come through the ranks of the academy.
Ameobi could not be described as a productive goal scorer at any time, but it must be remembered that he usually came off the bench during matches.
But there were highlights, including scoring against Barcelona at the Nou Camp and offsetting twice against Bayer Leverkusen during a Champions League campaign.
His 50th goal for the club also hit bitter rivals Sunderland in February 2009.
Shola Ameobi celebrates scoring for Newcastle United against Barcelona in 2002
8. Celestine Babayaro
Chelsea 1997-2005; Newcastle United 2005-2008
Babayaro was just a teenager, but demanded a £ 2.25 million compensation when Chelsea saw him at Anderlecht in April 1997, an indication of his promise.
Injury meant that he missed Chelsea’s wins in the League Cup and European Cup Winners Cup final of 1998, but the left back would cancel the FA Cup in 2000.
Although he faced competition for seven years from Graeme Le Saux at Stamford Bridge, Babayaro still played more than 200 matches for the club.
His handful of goals for Chelsea was celebrated with backflips and other acrobatics, making him a favorite with the audience.
After Wayne Bridge took his place, Babayaro moved on to Newcastle United, where his career ended.
Celestine Babayaro was famous for his festive backflips after scoring for Chelsea
7. Efan Ekoku
Norwich City 1993-1994; Wimbledon 1994-1999
A backlash to the 1990s when the Premier League became an increasingly cosmopolitan resort with international players from all countries tempted.
Striker Ekoku was born in Manchester but represented Nigeria 20 times between 1994 and 1998.
He first played for Norwich and joined Mike Walker’s side from Bournemouth while involved in the title race in the 1992-93 campaign, eventually ending behind champions Manchester United and Aston Villa.
Efan Ekoku scores the winning goal for Wimbledon against Arsenal in November 1998
They still reached the UEFA Cup and Ekoku scored the club’s first goal in the European competition and helped them beat Bayern Munich before moving to Wimbledon in October 1994.
Wimbledon never scored too many goals, but if they did, there was a reasonable chance that Ekoku would have scored them when the club in South London outweighed their weight in the Premier League.
In total, he achieved 37 goals in 123 games for the Dons and made the Nigeria team for the 1994 World Cup.
6. Victor Moses
Wigan Athletic 2009-2012; Chelsea 2012 (loans from Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United)
After impressing in the Crystal Palace championship, it was Wigan who pulled Moses to the Premier League with a £ 2.5 million purchase on the last day of the January window of 2010.
Moses did well for the Latics, who declined four Chelsea offers in the summer of 2012 before accepting the fifth. Soon the winger was a normal player because Chelsea won the Europa League in his first season.
Victor Moses celebrates the scoring of Chelsea against Basel in the semi-final of the Europa League
As with many Chelsea players, Moses fell in and out of favor, depending on who was in charge at the time, loaned to Liverpool, Stoke and West Ham in the next three years.
He struggled for opportunities in Liverpool, but did better in Stoke. When he returned from West Ham, Moses impressed the new manager Antonio Conte and fitted brilliantly into his 3-4-3 system.
He played and performed well when Chelsea won the Premier League title in Conte’s first season, but has since fallen out of favor by borrowing time at Fenerbahce and then at Inter Milan.
5. Joseph Yobo
Everton 2002-2010; Norwich City 2014
Yobo was an absolute supporter of the Super Eagles and played 101 times (a national record shared with Vincent Enyeama), and he was also a regular part of Everton’s defense.
Initially taken over by the Toffees on loan from Marseille in 2002, he earned a permanent move with a succession of solid performances and remained a first choice for David Moyes for the first six or seven years.
Joseph Yobo from Nigeria was a fixture in Everton’s defense for several years
Yobo was close to moving to Arsenal in the summer of 2006, but it fell through and he played every minute of the following season.
He later went to Captain Everton and made nearly 200 Premier League appearances for the club before joining Fenerbahce. He briefly returned to England to appear eight loans for Norwich in 2014.
4. Jay-Jay Okocha
Bolton Wanderers 2002-2006
Okocha is probably the Nigerian player who Premier League fans remember with the greatest preference.
Sam Allardyce wanted to add a touch of glamor to his non-fashionable Bolton side in 2002, and Okocha, signed on a free by Paris Saint-Germain, certainly provided it.
Okocha not only became popular in Bolton because of his skills and deceit, he scored crucial goals to keep Bolton away from the danger of relegation in his first season there.
Jay-Jay Okocha celebrates scoring Bolton in Liverpool during their League Cup run
He handed over the captain’s tie in 2003 and helped Bolton reach the League Cup final just to beat Middlesbrough.
Okocha played 124 league games for Bolton, regularly appeared on show skills of the season and assured himself of cult hero status in that part of the northwest.
Portsmouth 2003-2005; Middlesbrough 2005-2007; Everton 2007-2011; Blackburn Rovers 2011-2012
It can be easy to forget the contribution of ‘The Yak’, because he has never played for teams at the top of the Premier League.
But when you consider that Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Adebayor are the only African players who have scored more goals than he in the league, you get an idea of how good he was in the penalty area.
Yakubu celebrates scoring for Portsmouth against Blackburn Rovers in March 2004
Yakubu helped Portsmouth in the top flight in 2003 and scored 16 times in 37 games to ensure that Pompey’s stay was not short.
In total, he scored 28 Premier League goals for the south coast club over two seasons before moving to Middlesbrough for £ 7.5 million.
While at Teesside, he helped Boro against all odds to reach the final of the UEFA Cup in 2006 and scored an important penalty against Roma in the last 16.
The striker scored against Roma during the Europa League run of Middlesbrough in 2005-06
That prompted Everton to break their club transfer record and pay him £ 11.25 million in 2007, taking the No. 22 shirt because this was his goal for the season. He fell short.
Injury issues affected his later time with Goodison, but he added to his Premier League goals with Blackburn and scored 95 in 252 appearances in general.
2. John Obi Mikel
If things had gone differently, John Obi Mikel would have been the first Nigerian to play for Manchester United in 2006.
But after his highly controversial transfer from Norwegian club Lyn to Chelsea as an 18-year-old, Mikel gradually settled into a prominent role in their midfield.
It took Mikel a moment to gain the confidence of Jose Mourinho and there were some disciplinary problems, but he really took his chance when Claude Makelele moved to PSG and Michael Essien was injured.
John Obi Mikel plays two Tottenham players during a Chelsea performance in April 2007
After winning the FA Cup during his first season, the midfielder then won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the League Cup, Champions League and Europa League during a brilliant career with the Blues over 372 games.
He was known for his power in tackle, positional discipline, and ball-playing ability, and these attributes also saw Mikel represent Nigeria on 89 occasions.
1. Nwankwo Kanu
Arsenal 1998-2004; West Bromwich Albion 2004-2006; Portsmouth 2006-2010
Undoubtedly the best-known Nigerian player from the Premier League period, Kanu won a whole series of awards during an impressive career.
He had already won the Champions League with Ajax and the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan before Arsenal signed him for £ 4.15 million in February 1999.
The striker hit the ground running, mainly used by Arsene Wenger as an effective impact among the bank.
Kanu celebrates scoring against Aston Villa in 1999 in front of a happy Highbury crowd
Perhaps his most memorable moment came during the 1999-2000 season with his memorable 15-minute hat trick against Chelsea who trailed 2-0 in a 3-2 win.
Thierry Henry’s signing would severely limit his playing time later in his Arsenal career, but he still managed to win two Premier League titles and two FA Cups and scored 44 goals in 197 games.
In 2008, an investigation among Arsenal supporters saw Kanu at number 13 in a countdown of the club’s biggest players.
The striker scores from a seemingly impossible angle to complete his treble against Chelsea
However, that was not the end of his career in the Premier League, as Kanu moved on to West Brom and spent six seasons with Portsmouth, lifting the FA Cup again in 2008.
Kanu was captain of the Nigeria team that won gold at the 1996 Olympic Games and played a total of 87 goals for his country, with 12 goals.