Arsenal has a rich history of talented players of Nigerian descent who have made significant contributions to the club. From the dazzling skills of Nwankwo Kanu to the mesmerizing cleverness of Bukayo Saka, these players have left their mark on the Gunners’ legacy.

PUNCH Sports Extra takes a look at some players of Nigeria descent who have donned the colour of the London club

  1. Chuba Akpom

London-born striker Chuba Akpom holds dual UK and Nigerian citizenship – both of his parents are from Nigeria – and he was once regarded as one of the top prospects in Arsenal’s Hale End academy.

Akpom was just six years old when he joined the Arsenal academy ranks in 2002 and eventually made the breakthrough into the first team under Arsene Wenger, but he left having played just 12 games with no goals to boot.

However, the forward exploded during the 2022-23 Championship season with Middlesbrough, notching a league-high 28 goals and earning himself a marquee move to Ajax, where he also hit double figures in his debut Eredivisie season.

Formerly representing England from U-16 to U-21 level, Akpom is yet to be capped by a senior national team but has declared allegiance to Nigeria.

  1. Folarin Balogun

While Akpom is still awaiting the phone call from the Nigerian Football Federation, his fellow attacker Balogun – who also starred for England at youth level – opted to go in the opposite direction and don the United States shirt.

Born in New York to Nigerian parents, Balogun was just eight years old when he was invited to train at Arsenal’s famed academy, but as was the case with Akpom, his Gunners career was modest at best.

Failing to transfer his prolific youth form into a glut of senior goals, Balogun netted just twice in 10 games for the first team but was another unexpected success story in the 2022-23 Ligue 1 season with Reims, notching 21 goals.

The American did not hit the same heights in his first campaign with Monaco, but he still had a direct hand in 15 goals in 32 matches across all tournaments and is a fully-fledged member of the USA national team.

  1. Alex Iwobi

Iwobi was just four years old when he relocated to English shores, having also momentarily grown up in Turkey.

Another graduate of Arsenal’s Hale End network, Iwobi racked up 149 appearances for the Gunners – scoring 15 goals and setting up 24 more – and thrived under the tutelage of Unai Emery during the Spaniard’s ill-fated spell in charge.

Iwobi never achieved undisputed starter status in North London, though, and he was sold to Everton for £25.7m in the summer of 2019, making him one of Arsenal’s most expensive departures of all time.

Now a squad player at Fulham, the playmaker pledged allegiance to Nigeria while still a teenager and has now appeared in 80 matches for the Super Eagles.

  1. Nwankwo Kanu

Words that shall forever be associated with towering striker Kanu, still regarded as one of the finest players to emerge from his continent and one that continuously wowed Gooners with his array of goals from all angles.

Formerly the record holder for the most substitute appearances for Arsenal, Kanu earned his stars as Ajax and Inter Milan before linking up with Wenger in 1999, which marked the start of a five-year association with the Gunners.

The Nigerian contributed 44 goals and 32 assists in 197 games for the North London titans and was a member of their 2003-04 Invincibles squad, before going on to represent West Bromwich Albion and Portsmouth, winning another FA Cup with the latter in 2008.

  1. Emmanuel Adebayor

Adebayor was best remembered at international level for his feats with Togo, but the former striker’s parents are both of Nigerian origin.

The former Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur striker ultimately elected to represent the country of his birth, but he affirmed in a 2023 interview with TVC – via the Daily Post – that he is a “pure Yoruba”.

Regarded as one of the best strikers in the Premier League for a short while, Adebayor memorably sprinted to celebrate in front of furious Gooners after scoring for Man City shortly after his departure, before burning any remaining Emirates bridges by crossing the Arsenal-Tottenham divide.

  1. Bukayo Saka

The scintillating starboy himself, the parents of Bukayo Saka – or to give him his full name, Bukayo Ayoyinka Temidayo Saka – both migrated to London from Nigeria, and their love for Arsenal was said to have been a key factor in their relocation.

Nurtured by Freddie Ljungberg, introduced to first-team football by Emery and developing into one of the world’s most feared wingers under Mikel Arteta, Saka certainly has a case to label himself Arsenal’s most influential player, notching 20 goals and 13 assists in 2023-24.




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