The Serie A is the main Italian football league, which has been in existence since 1898 and is now constituted since 1929. The league began with 18 clubs, although it has grown and shrunk numerous times since then, ranging from 16 to 21 clubs as a minimum and maximum.
The Serie A has seen some of football’s greatest players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Buffon, and Andrea Pirlo to name a few.
Well, many Nigerian star players have also stepped on a football pitch wearing jerseys of Serie A teams. In this article, we look at the top Nigerian footballers who played in Italy, Serie A.
1. Kanu Nwankwo
Kanu is often regarded as the greatest Nigerian player of all time, yet his time at Internazionale is sometimes overlooked among his many achievements with Arsenal and Ajax.
The talented striker joined Inter for $4.7 million in 1996, his best year, when he led Nigeria to Olympic gold and was named African Footballer of the Year. Kanu’s time at Inter, however, was overshadowed by the discovery of a serious heart issue, which deprived him playing time.
2. Victor Osimehn
Victor Osimehn is currently the reigning talent in the Italian Serie A, playing for the Naples Team, Napoli. Osimehn was part of the Nigeria U17 team that won the Under 17 World Cup in 2015. He joined Lille in France where he played from 2019 to 2020.
In 2020, Osimehn made the switch to Napoli. So far, he’s made 29 appearances for Napoli and scored 14 times. Osimehn has played 14 games for the Super Eagles senior team, bagging 7 goals. He represented Nigeria in the 2019 AFCON where they won the bronze.
The promising talent is yet to lift any silverware with Napoli but he still has a lot of time ahead. Nigerian football fans wish him all the best.
3. Obafemi Martins
Obagoal arrived in Italy as a teenager, initially playing for Reggiana and then Inter Milan. Martins won a slew of domestic trophies during his time at Inter, including the Serie A title and the Italian Cup, but the purchase of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hernan Crespo forced him out.
Martines went on to play for Newcastle United, Wolfsburg, and Rubin Kazan, as well as Birmingham City, where he won the League Cup in 2011. He returned to the Chinese Super League later on with Shanghai Shenhua. Now he plays for Wuhan Zall.
4. Taribo West
During a spectacular four-year tenure in Italian football, Taribo West West represented both Inter Milan and AC Milan, having arrived at the Nerazzurri from Auxerre, where he had won back to back league titles.
The centre-back was sent off in Inter’s Uefa Cup final win over Lazio, but his tenure in Italy was practically over soon after he joined AC Milan, where he appeared to not fit with Paolo Maldini.
5. Oliseh Sunday
Oliseh came to Juventus in 1999 after two great seasons with Ajax, but he struggled to duplicate his past success in Italy and left for Borussia Dortmund a year later.
Earlier in his career, the gifted defensive midfielder played for Reggiana in Italian football. The climax of Oliseh’s tumultuous career came at the 1998 World Cup, when he scored a spectacular goal to help the Super Eagles overcome Spain.
6. Ogenyi Onazi
Onazi currently plays for Denizlispor. However, the central midfielder spent about 5 years in Italy playing for Lazio. This was from 2012 to 2016. In 74 appearances for Lazio, Onazi found the net 4 times.
For Nigeria, Onazi has played for under 17, under 20, and the senior team. In over 60 appearances for the Super Eagles, the player has just a goal. Nevertheless, he represented Nigeria in the 2013 AFCON in South Africa which Nigeria won.
After leaving Lazio in 2016, Onazi moved to Trabzonspor where he spent 2 years. He played in 69 games in that 2 years beating his record in Lazio by scoring 6 in 69 games.
7. Taye Taiwo
Taiwo joined AC Milan in 2011 after a glittering six-year tenure with Olympique de Marseille, but his promising career never fully recovered. Under Massimiliano Allegri, the left-back struggled for playing time at Milan and was loaned to Queens Park Rangers eight months later.
By the time he left for Bursaspor in 2013, his international career had already come to an end. Taiwo was a French champion in 2010 and was chosen to the Ligue 1 Team of the Season three times.
8. Victor Moses
Moses’ career chances were revolutionized by Antonio Conte, who reshaped the former winger into a wing-back at Stamford Bridge and won the Premier League with Chelsea.
Moses did very well, helping the Blues win the Premier League before Maurizio Sarri considered him surplus to needs. Moses later rejoined Conte at Inter. Now, he plays for Russian club Spartak Moscow.
9. Odion Ighalo
Ighalo, who is now a striker at Saudi club Al Shabab, had a brief stint in Italian football earlier in his career. After excelling at Julius Berger in Nigeria’s top flight, the striker went to Lyn in Norway before eventually joining Udinese.
A loan transfer to Cesena followed, but it was in Granada in Spain that Ighalo fully exhibited the goalscoring form that eventually led to his move to Watford.
Now you know which of your favourite Nigerian players have played in the Serie A competition.