Who was the best Nigerian player in Europe? Meet the Contenders

We present the five Super Eagles stars in contention for the inaugural Goal Nigeria Player of the Season Europe Award. Vote and let us know who has impressed you most this season
The Goal Nigeria Team

To launch the inaugural Goal Nigeria Player of the Season Europe Award, the team has drawn up a list of five Super Eagles nominees and each advocated their player of choice.

Over the next four days you will have the chance to vote on your Player of the Season, with the winner announced on Monday.

Who gets your vote?

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Emmanuel Emenike

Emmanuel Emenike has enjoyed arguably his greatest-ever season at the heart of Fenerbahce’s attack in 2013-14, leading the club to their 19th league title with consistently strong performances.

Since rejoining the club from Spartak Moscow in August 2013 for a fee of around €13m, Emenike has managed an average of just over a goal every 180 minutes for Ersun Yanal’s side, forming a devastating attack along with the club’s top scorer Moussa Sow that contributed 74 goals.

With 12 league goals and nine assists in 28 league appearances, he has demonstrated his impact on the field for the Yellow Canaries.  Even in a campaign during which he suffered a hamstring injury that ruled him out for three games, he was always the side's go-to man.

He hit perhaps his most important goal at a crucial time for his team in October 2013 when a last minute strike ensured his team secured a 3-2 win over Kayserispor while his brace inspired a 3-1 win versus Gaziantepspor a week later.

The bulky attacker’s tale with the Yellow Canaries in the season under review has been a great one and his exploits in a yellow shirt has made him worthy of mention as one of the best players in Turkey.

There is no limit as to how much the striker’s reputation could increase if things fall into place at the World Cup this summer.

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Vincent Enyeama

Vincent Enyeama’s incredible display in goal in France surely makes him the Nigerian player of the season.

Dazzling between the sticks for both country and club, Enyeama has continued to delight goalkeeping purists with his shot-stopping and defensive organisation.

Enyeama was overlooked for the UNFP Ligue 1 Best Goalkeeper of the Season Award prize despite winning the Best Player Award for the months of October and November.

He was the first goalkeeper and Nigerian player ever to be named as the Marc-Vivien Foe Ligue 1 African Player of the Season.

He failed to concede a goal in 1062 minutes and came within minutes of breaking Gaetan Huard’s Ligue 1 record for consecutive clean sheets.

The 31-year-old is at the peak of his powers, and his 21 clean sheets in 37 club appearances this season makes him a shoo-in for the Nigeria Player of the Season Europe Award.

There was also a tangible consequence of Enyeama’s form, as LOSC Lille secured a Champions League berth.

Enyeama is comfortably Nigeria’s Player of the Season and a more appropriate question might be where he stands among the world’s finest stoppers.

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Efe Ambrose
I congratulate all the nominees for this award. They all deserve acknowledgement, but none more than the ever-dependable Celtic defender, Efe Ambrose.

The 25-year-old epitomizes the yearnings of all football loving Nigerians—a high level of consistency for both club and country.

It is poignant to note that despite all the ill-talk about the bench-warming players within the Super Eagles squad, Ambrose has continued to shine, playing regular domestic league and Champions League football in Scotland.

He is also a league winner and was ever-present in the Hoops’ back-line, playing a key role for his side as they stormed to a consecutive Scottish league title. 

He is not just a one-dimensional old school defender who only knows how to sweep both man and ball. He plays intelligently. He reads the opposition and dispossesses them systematically, and if he is required to do the dirty work, he’s not one to shy away. 

In modern day football, adaptability is the key word. He is an accomplished centre-back for his club side and also a dependable right-back for Nigeria. 

His goal-scoring credentials serves as icing on the cake.

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Peter Odemwingie

What a season Peter Odemwingie has had.

He moved to newly-promoted Cardiff City in a pall of recriminations and ill-feeling and only managed one league goal in 15 Premier League appearances. If 2013 was his annus horibilis, however, 2014 has brought a reversal of fortunes. His move to Stoke City in January coincided with a sharp downturn in form and fortunes for the Bluebirds, who now have to contemplate life in the Championship.

In the meantime, Odemwingie swiftly set about repairing his damaged reputation with the Potters. Another 15 Premier League appearances have yielded five goals, a respectable tally in a new team with new players. There have been no blow-outs: his tally was achieved by scoring in five different games, an indication of consistent performance.

Also worth noting is the nature of the goals scored.

Not all goals are of equal importance: a fourth in a 5-0 win for example is rather less valuable to a team than an opening goal or equaliser. Odemwingie’s five goals include two equalisers, an opening goal and two winners: the lone goal in a win over Hull and the third in a 3-1 win over West Ham in March; the Nigerian striker knows how to score important goals.

His form has led to a recall to the Super Eagles for the World Cup in Brazil.

With his flair and knack of scoring important goals, his presence in the forward line is a boon, and could be the key in a tight World Cup group.

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Ikechukwu Uche

Admittedly, Vincent Enyeama has had an outstanding season in France, Efe Ambrose and Emmanuel Emenike won their respective domestic titles, and Peter Odemwingie has undergone a redemption of sorts. However, goals are football’s currency and Africa’s Player of the Season has to be Ike Uche.

La Liga’s reputation has been restored this season. Two Spanish sides are in the Champions League final, and another has won the Europa League.

It is to his credit, therefore, that Ike Uche has marked his return to such a competitive division with 14 league goals. He was Villarreal’s top scorer and his goal haul put him ahead of the likes of David Villa (who scored 13 goals in 32 starts) and only one behind Pedro (15 goals in 28 starts) and Gareth Bale (15 goals in 24 starts).

That Uche’s 14 came in only 19 starts makes his record all the more impressive.

The striker’s consistency in front of goal is marked by the fact that he averaged only 1.5 shots-per-game. Putting this into perspective, no player in La Liga’s top 20 scorers took fewer shots during the course of the season.

Uche is lethal when faced with the target, but, it seems, his claims have fallen on deaf ears with regards to national team selection.

The striker has been ignored by Stephen Keshi for his Nigeria squad, but 51% of those who tried my Nigeria World Cup Squad Selector App named the former Getafe forward in their Super Eagles 30.

Will the Big Boss come to regret his decision?

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