JAMES AGBEREBI profiles seven former Super Eagles stars who returned from greener pastures overseas and featured again in the Nigerian domestic football league which once served as springboard for plying their trade abroad.
Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa is back in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and has signed for former club Kano Pillars.
Musa will be with Pillars until the end of the 2020-2021 football season.
The former Leicester and CKSA Moscow’s return to the NPFL has been endorsed by football fans, coaches and administrators, as they believe it will help the image of the league.
Musa cut his football teeth at GBS Football Academy who loaned him to Jos side JUTH FC before Kano Pillars the signed him in 2009, and was loaned to Dutch side VVV Venlo in 2011 after and impressive performance for the Flying Eagles at 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia. CSKA then landed the service of the speedy forward in 2012.
The late Rashidi Yekini kicked off his professional career with UNTL Kaduna before moving on to feature for the likes of Shooting Stars, Abiola Babes and Africa Sports in Cote d’Ivoire.
Yekini then moved to Europe where he turned out for Vitoria Setubal, Olympiacos, Sporting Gijon, FC Zurich, Bizerte (Tunisia) and Al-Shabab.
After his European sojourn, Yekini returned to the Nigerian league and played for Julius Berger (2002-2003).
Aside from featuring in Berger’s league fixtures, he also took part in their campaign in the now defunct CAF Cup Winners’ Cup where they got to the final and lost to Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel. Yekini missed both legs of the final due to injury.
After leaving Berger he went on to sign for Gateway in 2005 and scored seven goals in 26 appearances.
Fondly called ‘The Bull’
, Daniel Amokachi began his football career in Nigeria when he played for Ranchers Bees from 1989 to 1990.
He left the shores of Nigeria and signed for Belgian giants Club Brugge where he spent four seasons.
From Club Brugge he proceeded to Everton, Besiktas and Colorado Rapids before returning to Nigeria and joined Nasarawa United in 2005.
Likened to the late Diego Maradona by legendary radio commentator Ernest Okonkwo, Etim Esin signed for top Nigerian clubs like Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now Heartland), Flash Flamengoes and Calabar Rovers.
After thrilling the Nigerian fans, Esin headed for Europe and featured for Belgian outfits; AA Gent, Lokoren and Lierse SK.
He left Belgian and headed for Turkey where he featured for Kayserispor and came back home where his career started and signed for Julius Berger in 1996.
During his time at Julius Berger Esin helped them become champions of the FA Cup.
Esin left Julius Berger and joined Port Harcourt-based Eagles Cement in 1997 where he featured in their league and CAF Champions League campaigns.
After just one year at Eagles Cement, Esin then headed West and joined Shooting Stars of Ibadan in 1998.
He also spent just one year at the club before eventually calling time on his football career.
A veteran of four Africa Cup of Nations, plus two FIFA World Cups and an Olympic gold medal winner (Atlanta 1996), Garba Lawal’s first club was Julius Berger who he featured for from 1993 to 1995.
He left the Bridge Boys and joined Tunisian club Esperance before heading for Europe to play for Roda, Levski Sofia, Elfsborg and Iraklis.
Also, Lawal turned out for Santa Clara in Portugal, Changsha Ginde and came back to Nigeria to sign for his former club Julius Berger in 2007.
During his time at Berger, Lawal scored eight goals in 18 appearances.
And in 2009 he became a player-coach at Makurdi side Lobi Stars and made just three outings and scored one goal.
Sani Kaita was a player of Kano Pillars from 2004 to 2005 before he was snapped up by Dutch side Sparta Rotterdam.
He left Sparta Rotterdam in 2008 and featured for the likes of AS Monaco, Kuban Krasnodar, Lokomotiv Moscow, Metalist Kharkiv and Olympiakos Nicosia.
In 2014, Kaita was back in Nigeria training with Enyimba before joining them on a three-month loan deal.
And in 2015 he moved to FC Ifeanyi Ubah before travelling abroad the following year to sign for Finnish side JS Heracles.
Dele Aiyenugba kicked off his professional career as goalkeeper in Nigeria when he starred for Kwara Stars from 1998 to 2000.
From 2001 to 2007 he was with Enyimba where he won back-to-back CAF Champions League (2003 and 2004).
Aiyenugba left Enyimba in 2007 and went to Israel where he played for Bnei Yehuda, Hapoel Ashkelon, Hapoel Iksal and Hapoel Afula.
After spending 13 years in Israel, Aiyenugba came back to Nigeria and signed for Kwara United in 2020 where he is currently playing.
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