Mikel is the last Nigerian winner of the UEFA Champions League title. Ten years after his win in 2012 with Chelsea , SPORTSRATION looks at Osimhen and other Nigerian players that can achieve UCL success this season and replace Mikel as the last Nigerian winner of the title.
In May 2012 , Mikel Obi helped Chelsea to a maiden UCL title to become the third Nigerian to win the UEFA Champions League . Kanu Nwankwo and Finidi George are the other two Nigerians on this roll .
Before Mikel Obi’s UCL win with Chelsea in 2012 , 17 years had passed since Kanu Nwankwo and Finidi George emerged winners of the competition with Ajax in 1995 .
Ten unsuccessful years have gone by for Nigerian players in the UCL . The 2022/2023 UCL begins today , here are the top three Nigerian players on paper that can end this drought with stunning success with their clubs .
The 23 year old Nigerian striker will play in the UEFA Champions League this season with Italian Serie A side Napoli .
Osimhen helped Napoli qualify for the UCL last term , banging 14 goals to secure a 3rd place finish in the Serie A last season .
Osimhen may be unavailable for the clubs opening game vs Liverpool on Wednesday September 7 , but will play a big part if the Partonopei are to achieve continental success this season .
On paper , Napoli are not one of the favourites for the title , but it’s football and anything is possible .
First , Osimhen and his teammates must negotiate their way through Group A that includes Liverpool , Ajax and Glasgow Rangers .
Osimhen will be playing in the Champions League for a second season, the first with Lille produced 2 goals in 5 appearances .
Ajax new boy Calvin Bassey will be playing against familiar faces in his first UEFA Champions League campaign with the Dutch Giants .
A game vs former Glasgow Rangers teammates on Matchday One and the face-off with Super Eagles teammate Victor Osimhen waits in Group A for the left back .
Ajax is one club with a rich history in the UEFA Champions League . Bassey’s compatriots Kanu Nwankwo and Finidi George won the competition in 1995 with the club , a footstep the left back will hope to follow in the 2022/2023 season .
On paper, Ajax and Napoli are expected to battle for the second qualification spot in Group A , with Liverpool tipped to reach the next round in Europe’s premier club competition this term .
FC Porto left back Zaidu Sanusi is the third Nigerian with a fair chance of ending Nigerian players 10 year UCL title win drought .
FC Porto winners of the UEFA Champions League in 2004 will play in Group B which also features Bayer Leverkusen , Atletico Madrid and Club Brugge who will parade Nigerian Midfielder Raphael Onyedika .
Sanusi has enjoyed a positive start to the season at the Portuguese league Champions and will be a prominent figure in their chase for a second UCL title .
Other Nigerian players in this seasons UEFA Champions League are Olawrenwaju Kayode (Shakhtar Donestk) , Paul Makairu and Akinwunmi Amoo (FC Copenhagen) , Nnamdi Oforborh (Glasgow Rangers) , Fortune Bassey and Alao Aloabani ( Viktoria Plzen ) .
There is also Samsun Tijani who may not have minutes this season for RB Salzburg following his expected lengthy spell on the sideline with Injury .
NIGERIA’S CHANCES OF PRODUCING ANOTHER UCL WINNER THIS SEASON
Based on the Pedigree and quality in the clubs they play, there is a slim chance Nigeria will produce another UCL winner this season .
However, the odds could change in the January transfer window if Nigerian players are able to make the move to some of Europe’s big boys .
Based on current realities , a win for either of Napoli , Ajax , Fc Porto , Rangers , FC Copenhagen , Viktoria Plzen and Shakhtar Donestk will stun bookmarkers and the world of football .
It is Football so nothing is settled on paper , we look forward to yet another another amazing season of top notch footballing action in the UEFA Champions League.