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Kayode & Nigerian strikers who didn't realise their potential

01:37 GMT+3 09/05/2022
Olarenwaju Kayode Girona
As the ex-ManchesterCity man turns 29, we remember six Nigerian strikers who never realised their potential

  • Olarenwaju Kayode Gaziantep FK

    Olarenwaju Kayode

    Currently featuring with Sivasspor in the Turkish top flight—on loan from Ukraine giants Shakhtar Donetsk—it doesn’t seem that long ago that Kayode was signing for English giants ManchesterCity.

    It was an odd move at the time, with Kayode then approaching his mid-20s and not the kind of youth prospect with time to develop on his side.

    He had enjoyed an excellent scoring record with Austria Vienna before that move, but has struggled to score consistently since—barring a decent scoring run on loan at Gaziantep.

    The Nigeria caps have dried up after he featured four times for the national side in 2017.

  • Isaac Success

    Isaac Success

    Watford’s record signing when he signed for the Hornets from Granada for a fee estimated to be around £12.5 million in 2016, it’s fair to see that deal never truly worked out for player nor club.

    The striker’s time in Hertfordshire was mired by injury, loss of form and off-field controversies, and he ended his spell at the club with a miserable three goals in 63 league games across the Premier League and the Championship.

    This season, on loan at Udinese, he’s registered his career best tally for goal contributions, although don’t expect him to add to his two Nigeria caps any time soon.

  • Julius Aghahowa

    Julius Aghahowa

    Broke onto the scene at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations, where he was the tournament’s joint top scorer and caught the eye with his somersaulting celebrations.

    He proceeded to win a trio of Ukrainian titles with Shakhtar Donetsk, although Aghahowa’s career took a wrong turn in his mid-20s when he signed for Wigan Athletic.

    He failed to net in the Premier League, wouldn’t represent Nigeria again after 2007, and even a return to Shakhtar—wither another domestic title—couldn’t quite reignite his career.

  • Josh Maja of Stoke City and Nigeria.

    Josh Maja

    Contrary to others on this list, Maja still has time on his side to realise his potential and fulfil the hype that accompanied the early stages of his career.

    However, he is running out of time and it increasingly appears as though we won’t live up to the immense expectations that accompanied him at Sunderland.

    Currently with StokeCity in the Championship, he’s scored just once on loan this season, struggling to impress in the second tier, and in fact, has netted just 13 goals with Girondins de Bordeaux, Fulham and the Potters since leaving Sunderland in 2018.

    Nonetheless, the 23-year-old is skilful, impresses in the build-up play, and can still be a hit—he just needs the right move this summer.

  • Macauley Chrisantus HSV

    Macauley Chrisantus

    Chrisantus became a household name after his performances at the U-17 World Cup in South Korea in 2007.

    The striker scored seven goals en route the Golden Eaglets’ third triumph at the showpiece, which saw him win the Silver Ball.

    Unfortunately, the striker couldn’t build on the promise shown in 2007, although there was a spell at Las Palmas where he scored 19 and assisted four in 64 games between 2012 and 2014 in the Spanish second division.

    At 31, when Chrisantus recalls the competition in Asia there may be a tinge of regret, especially as the winner of the Golden Ball, Real Madrid's Toni Kroos, has gone on to claim several collective and individual accolades since their teen years.

  • Bartholomew Ogbeche Hyderabad FC 51 ISL goals

    Bartholomew Ogbeche

    Few will remember that Ogbeche played for Paris Saint-Germain early in his career, due to his limited impact in the French capital.

    He was contracted to the Parisians for six years, although he spent some time away at SC Bastia and Metz on loan in that period.

    It was during his PSG days that he was thrust into the Nigeria squad as a fresh-faced 17-year-old by Adegboye Onigbinde, who handed the teenager the number nine shirt at the 2002 World Cup.

    He partnered Aghahowa at the finals but didn’t get among the goals as the Super Eagles exited at the group stage, bottom of their group after scoring just once.

    Ogbeche never really took off after that, with a journeyman career taking him to the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Macedonia and England. He did have one decent individual season in 2009-10 with Cadiz where he ended top scorer with nine goals. However, this wasn’t enough to spare them from relegation from the Segunda Division.

    Peculiarly, though, the striker has been fairly prolific in recent years with Cambuur and Willem II in the Eredivisie, where he has registered 34 and 13-goal contributions respectively.

    Now 37, Ogbeche currently features in the Indian Super League for Hyderabad, where he is the all-time top scorer in the Indian top flight. It’s an impressive accolade, but fans once expected so much more.