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Yekini, Amokachi… Super Eagles stars who returned to play in Nigerian league

Yekini, Amokachi… Super Eagles stars who returned to play in Nigerian league
April 17
08:14 2021

The return of Ahmed Musa, Super Eagles captain, to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) has dominated sports headlines in the past week.

The 28-year-old forward, who is fondly called the “governor” for his leadership qualities, rejoined Kano Pillars on a short-term contract till the end of the 2020/21 NPFL season.

Signing with his boyhood — after winning league titles in Russia and Saudi Arabia — made his return all the more sensational and special.

But he is not the first national team player to make the return home.


Here are six other Super Eagles stars who came back to play for NPFL clubs.

1996: Etim Esin went back to Julius Berger

The diminutive forward came back home in 1996 to feature for Julius Berger after playing for AA Gent, Lokoren, and Lierse SK — all in Belgium.


He also had a stint with Kayserispor in Turkey.

Esin was part of the Berger team that lifted the FA Cup after which he joined Rivers Eagle Cement in 1997. A year on, he moved to Shooting Stars of Ibadan, where he retired from football.

Earlier in his career, before departing for Europe, he had played for Imo state’s Iwuayanwu Nationale (now Heartland FC), Flash Flamingoes, and Calabar Rovers.

2003: Rashidi Yekini returned to Julius Berger


At the age of 39, Rashidi Yekini returned to Nigeria after a 15-year stint abroad. The gangling striker joined Julius Berger on a one-year deal in the 2002/03 season.

Two years later, he linked up with Gateway FC of Ogun state, where he scored seven goals in 26 appearances.

Before making the journey back home, the Super Eagles’ record goalscorer had played for Africa Sports, Vitoria Setubal, Olympiacos, Sporting Gijon, FC Zurich, Bizerte, and Al-Shabab.

The late forward had kick-started his career with UNTL Kaduna, Shooting Stars and Abiola Babes.


2005: Daniel Amokachi moved to Nasarawa United

Nicknamed ‘The Bull’, Amokachi returned to Nasarawa United to rediscover his form in 2002.


Before then, Amokachi had played for Club Brugge in Belgium in the 1990s. After performing very well in the 1994 World Cup, Everton signed him for a fee of £3 million.

He left the English side at the end of the 1995/96 season for Beşiktaş in Turkey. After leaving the Turkish side in 1999, his playing career in Europe more or less ended. Amokachi signed for 1860 Munich and Tranmere Rovers but his contracts were rejected due to failed medical tests.


2007: Garba Lawal back to boyhood club

‘Chindo’ — as Lawal is fondly called — also returned to his boyhood club, Julius Berger, in 2007 after playing for several European clubs.

Lawal was a globetrotter before anchoring his ship at home. He played for Esperance of Tunisia and went on to Roda JC, where he had his most successful time in the Dutch Eredivise.

He also featured for Levski Sofia in Bulgaria, Elfsborg in Sweden, Iraklis in Greece, Santa Clara in Portugal, and Changsha Ginde in the Chinese Super League.

He was appointed player-coach at Lobi Stars in 2009 and scored one goal in three appearances.

2014: Sani Kaita to Aba

The former Kano Pillars player returned home to join Enyimba for three months in 2014.

A year before he returned to Aba, he had swung back and forth between foreign and local clubs for a bit. His move to Saxan was followed by a return home to FC Ifeanyi Ubah. He then moved to JS Hercules and Rovaniemen Palloseura — both in Finland.

During his career in Europe, he played for Sparta Rotterdam, AS Monaco, Kuban Krasnodar, Lokomotiv Moscow, Metaljst Kharkiv and Olympiakos Nicosa.

2020: Dele Aiyenugba to Kwara

The former Super Eagles shot-stopper rejoined Kwara United after 13 years with four different clubs in Israel.

He linked up with The Afonja Boys as the number one between the sticks for the 2020/21 NPFL season.

Before he left for Israel, he had played for Enyimba from 2001 to 2007 and won back-to-back CAF Champions League with the Aba Elephants in 2003 and 2004.


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