Taiwo Awoniyi was in red-hot goalscoring form in the 2021/22 Bundesliga season, with 15 goals. The 24-year-old is widely regarded as one of the Africa’s best finishers, but where does he rank in a list of the top-scoring Nigerians in German top flight history?
5. Austin Okocha
The first Nigerian to set foot in the Bundesliga was also without doubt one of the finest players the country has ever produced.
Okocha was an unknown quantity when he moved to Germany in 1990 but the Nigerian’s magical tricks soon stunned both fans and opponents alike. He started out at Borussia Neunkirchen before joining Eintracht Frankfurt in 1992, and he went on to score one of the best goals in Bundesliga history while with the Eagles.
Up against Karlsruhe in August 1993, the attacking midfielder received the ball on a breakaway and proceeded to toy with none other than legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. The Nigerian maestro turned the current Bayern CEO inside and out and back again, using a series of feints that bamboozled a couple of defenders too. That breathtaking effort was voted Germany’s goal of the year for 1993, and it was one of 18 Okocha got – as well as 13 assists – in 90 appearances for Eintracht.
The former Bolton and Paris Saint-Germain player, who left Frankfurt for Fenerbahce in 1996, won both the Africa Cup of Nations and Olympic gold during his career.
4. Taiwo Awoniyi
After joining Liverpool at just 17 in 2015, Awoniyi was sent out on loan to seven different clubs, including Mainz and Union Berlin, before making his move to the latter a permanent one in summer 2021.
If the striker had always hinted at his finishing ability, he unquestionably confirmed it in the 2021/22 season, becoming the club’s all-time top scorer in the Bundesliga over the course of the campaign (15 overall) and helping the side finish as high as fifth in the table.
Taiwo Awoniyi has played 64 matches throughout the course of his career in the Bundesliga. Of these, he has won 23. He has netted 21 goals during his appointments in the Bundesliga.
3. Anthony Ujah
Still just 31, Ujah has spent the best part of the last decade in Germany. After impressing at Norwegian club Lilleström, Mainz won the race for his signature in 2011. A hard-working centre forward, Ujah excels at some of the more unglamorous aspects of the game: holding the ball up, pressing defenders and making runs to open space.
He’s handy in front of goal as well though, as evinced by the number of Bundesliga clubs that have signed him. Following two goals in 12 games for Mainz in his debut season, the Ugbokolo native began to show his true colours in 2014/15, hitting 10 goals in 32 appearances for Cologne, and then 11 in 32 the following year for Bremen.
By then Ujah was already a full Nigeria international, having earned his first cap in 2013, although he hasn’t been involved since making the last of seven appearances in a friendly against Niger in September 2015.
Following a two-year spell in China, he returned to the Bundesliga with Mainz in 2018, before switching to Union Berlin a year later. Although not a first-choice forward – largely due to Taiwo Awoniyi’s emergence, he scored three times in 24 games in 2019/20, and the third-highest scoring Nigerian in Bundesliga history overall with 30.
2. Victor Agali
Having enjoyed their first taste of a prolific Nigerian frontman, Hansa reacted to Akpoborie’s departure by signing Agali a year later. Just 20 at the time, the Okpanam native hit six goals and four assists in 22 top-flight outings in his debut season.
With a powerful 6’4” frame, he was the ideal target man, holding up the ball well to bring teammates into play. Eleven more goals followed over 44 appearances in the next two seasons, plus a further two on his debut for Nigeria in a 3-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Sudan in January 2001.
All of which prompted Schalke to swoop for his services that summer. Fourteen goals in 54 Bundesliga games was Agali’s haul over the next three seasons, at which point he departed for Nice in France in summer 2004, having helped Nigeria earn a bronze medal at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier that year. He fired 32 goals in the Bundesliga.
1. Jonathan Akpoborie
Lagos-born Akpoborie was already in Germany by the time Okocha rocked up, but he was plying his trade in the lower leagues at the time, with spells at Saarbrücken, Carl Zeiss Jena and Stuttgarter Kickers, among others.
Yet nine goals in 18 Bundesliga 2 appearances for Waldhof Mannheim in the first half of the 1995/96 season caught the eye of top-flight side Hansa Rostock, who signed him in January 1996.
The 12-time Nigeria international recorded six goals and two assists in his first 16 league games for Hansa – including the opener in a 3-1 win away to Okocha’s Frankfurt in April 1996 – to help them to a sixth-placed finish that season. Akpoborie, a powerful, hard-running centre forward, followed that up with 15 goals and five assists across 31 Bundesliga games the following campaign, which earned him a transfer to Stuttgart in summer 1997.
The goals continued to flow, with 21 in 58 league appearances over two years for VfB, and 19 in 39 games across two subsequent seasons for Wolfsburg. He wound his career down with a final season in Bundesliga 2 with Saarbrücken, but to this day he remains Nigeria’s highest scorer and record appearance maker in the Bundesliga with 60 goals in 144 outings.