Meet Super Eagles stars who made their names in Spanish La Liga
The history of the Spanish La Liga would not be complete without mentioning names of some natable Nigerians who have made their mark in the league.
La Liga is rated one of the top 5 biggest leagues in the world and has produced more European Champions than any other league in Europe, priding itself as the league that produced the FIFA football club of the Century.
Here are some Super Eagles players who have graced the Spanish La Liga with a notable mark.
The 'Headmaster' as he is fondly called spent 11 years in Spain as a footballer. He first arrived Spain to play for Real Madrid B from his boyhood club 3SC of Ibadan. But it was at Racing Santander that Mutiu made his La Liga debut.
He made 124 appearances for Racing and scored 45 times before switching to Real Sociedad in 1996. He ended his spell in Spain in 2001 with second-tier club UD Salamanca. Mutiu Adepoju has been named as a La Liga ambassador alongside other La Liga legends by the Spanish league board.
Finidi George was a key part of the Super Eagles set up in the 1990s.
In 1996, Finidi moved to Spain and signed for Real Betis, after a successful spell at the Netherlands.
He netted in double digits in nearly every season, with Real Betis finishing fourth in his first year, which also brought a Copa del Rey final loss against FC Barcelona (2–3 after extra time), where he scored; before joining the club he was close to moving to Real Madrid, but the deal fell through.
After Betis’ 2000 top flight relegation, Finidi stayed one more year in Spain with RCD Mallorca. He is famous among Betis fans for his iconic black hat celebration.
Born in Ibadan, Okunowo signed with La Liga giants FC Barcelona at only 18. In the 1998–99 season he competed for the starting spot in the first team with Michael Reiziger and managed 21 appearances in all competitions comprised 15 starts as the Catalans went on to win the national championship.
However, Okunowo did not manage to remain with Barça, going on to serve two unassuming loans, with Portugal’s S.L. Benfica and Spanish second division club CD Badajoz and being released in June 2002.
Odion Ighalo arrived Spain in 2009 from Italy when he signed a loan deal with Grenada. The former Flying Eagles captain scored 33 times in his 124 La Liga games for Grenada.
He broke Barcelona fans heart with a stunning strike in 2013.
The younger of the Uche brothers. He had a glittering career in Spain. Ikechukwu amassed La Liga totals of 194 games and 42 goals over the course of nine seasons, representing in the competition Recreativo, Getafe, Zaragoza, Villarreal, Granada and Málaga.
The other Uche on the list also had a decent career in Spain representing Almeria, Levante and Espanyol. He scored 27 times in 117 appearances in Spain. Kalu, as well as his brother Ikechukwu, featured prominently for the Super Eagles. He scored for Nigeria at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.