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Efan Ekoku: First Nigerian to Play in English Premier League

by Thomaz Oseghale
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first Nigerian to play in the English Premier League

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Efangwu Goziem Ekoku holds the prestigious title of being the first Nigerian to ever grace the English Premier League. His journey to the top division of English football began in April 1993 when he played an integral role in Norwich City’s promotion to the Premier League. Ekoku made a total of 38 appearances for Norwich City during the 1993-1994 season, scoring an impressive 18 goals for the side.

After his successful stint at Norwich City, Ekoku joined Wimbledon, now known as MK Dons, in 1994. He played a total of 123 games for the side, scoring 37 goals before leaving the top division in 1999.

Ekoku’s football career started at Sutton Utd, but he made his move into league football in the summer of 1990 when he signed for AFC Bournemouth. In his first season, he managed 20 games and three goals for the Cherries. The following season, Ekoku scored 11 goals in 28 league games, showcasing his potential.

On 26 March 1993, Ekoku made a £500,000 move to Norwich City, joining them in the midst of a title race under the management of Mike Walker.

He made an immediate impact, scoring three goals in ten games. Norwich City finished third in the league that season, securing a spot in the UEFA Cup.

Ekoku played a crucial role in their European campaign, scoring Norwich’s first-ever goal in European competition and helping them eliminate German club Bayern Munich.

During the 1994-1995 season, Ekoku transferred to Wimbledon to replace John Fashanu as strike partner to Dean Holdsworth. He finished the season as the club’s top scorer in the league with nine goals.

The following season, Ekoku scored seven goals and had an exciting campaign in 1996-1997, where Wimbledon finished eighth and were semi-finalists in both domestic cups. However, his first-team opportunities became limited over the next two seasons.

After a year on the transfer list, Ekoku moved to Grasshoppers in Switzerland in August 1999. He had a successful first season, scoring 16 goals in 21 games. Ekoku then returned to England, signing for Sheffield Wednesday in October 2000.

He played a vital role in helping the team avoid relegation in his first season and narrowly avoided the drop once again the following year.

Ekoku’s career took a downturn when he did not feature in Sheffield Wednesday’s disastrous 2002-2003 campaign, resulting in their relegation to Division Two.

He then signed for Brentford in March 2003 but failed to make an impact and was released at the end of the season. Ekoku finished his career in Ireland with Dublin City before retiring in 2004.

In recognition of his contributions to Norwich City, Ekoku was inducted into the Norwich City Hall of Fame in 2012.

This article was updated 5 months ago

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