Now retired, Edo born footballer, Yakubu Aiyegbeni seems to be the most underrated striker of all time, despite, in contrast, being the most prolific finisher in the Super Eagles era.
The powerful central striker having started his career with Julius Berger FC in Lagos as a teenager in the Nigerian Premier League. He was later loaned to Portuguese club Gil Vicente.
Israeli side Maccabi Haifa paid Julius Berger $300,000 for his signature. Yakubu’s highest scoring season at Haifa was 2001–02 when he scored 13 times in 22 games (League season was 33 matches).
Yakubu later moved to Portsmouth after training with Derby County but couldn’t secure a move due to lack of work permit.
The Julius Berger product was a member of the Super Eagles squad at 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2010 African Nations Cup, and started all the group matches at the 2010 World Cup.
The 35-year-old, who spent a decade playing in England for the likes of Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton, Leicester City, Blackburn Rovers and Reading, has been without a club since leaving Coventry City after just three games in April.
“I would like to officially announce my retirement from professional football today,” he told SkySports.
“Firstly, I would like to thank God for the career I have had. I would like to thank the entire Nigerian Football Federation and my Nigerian national team-mates for all the memorable years I had playing for the Super Eagles.
“I would also like to thank all the football clubs I played for. The managers, all club staff, owners, fellow players and my dearest family and friends who immensely supported me throughout my career.
“When I started my career at Julius Berger in Nigeria all those years ago (1997) I could only have dreamt of the success that was to follow years after.
“Also playing in England especially helped me grow as a player and as a person so much that I am now settled here. I feel the time is right for me to now focus on the next chapter in my life.”
During his time in the Premier League, Yakubu set a record that still stands today as Nigeria’s highest goalscorer in the history of the Premier League with 95 goals.
Former Arsenal striker Kanu Nwankwo amassed 54 goals in 273 Premier League matches and is second on the list of top Nigerian scorers, followed by ex-Norwich City star Efan Ekoku who has 52 goals to his name.
Yakubu is also one of the only three teenagers to have scored a hattrick in the UEFA Champions League [19years 306 days] for Maccabi Haifa against Olympiakos in 2002, alongside Wayne Rooney and Raul Gonzalez [retired].
Apart from Legendary strikers, Segun ‘Mathematical’ Odegbami and Late Rasheed Yekini, who has 22 and 37 for the Green Eagles respectively, Yakubu is the only striker to have amazed 21 goals from 57caps during his time in the Super Eagles.
Yakubu, however, missed a sitter in Nigeria’s World Cup against South Korea.