Aiyegbeni Retires From Football On 35th Birthday

BY TIAMIYU NURAYN ADEYINKA

Former Nigeria striker, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, on Wednesday called time on his football career on the anniversary of his 35th birthday.

Popularly called “The Yak,” Aiyegbeni recorded a total number of 21 goals in Nigerian colours, making him the 3rd best all-time scorer of the senior national team behind late Rashidi Yekini and Segun Odegbami, who weighed in with 37 and 22 goals respectively.

The former Julius Berger hit-man, who last played for Coventry, is fondly remembered for missing an open goal from three metres against South Korea in the last Group game at 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He later scored a penalty that earned Nigeria a 2–2 draw, which was not enough for the Super Eagles to progress from the group stages.

He featured for Nigeria at four African Cup of Nations finals, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Men’s football event at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Aiyegbeni was as much successful at club level, since he signed his first professional contract with Julius Berger, where he played the 1997-1998 season.

He later joined Israeli side Maccabi Haifa, where his performances in the 2002–03 UEFA Champions League earned him a loan move to English club Portsmouth, which became permanent as they were promoted to the Premier League in 2003.

He appeared in over 250 Premier League matches for Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton, and Blackburn Rovers, and was the second highest African goalscorer in Premier League history with 96 goals.

AIYEGBENI’S CLUB CAREER

1997–1998         Julius Berger

1998 → Gil Vicente (loan)

1998–2003 Maccabi Haifa   49     (24)

1999–2000 → Hapoel Kfar Saba (loan) 23     (6)

2003 → Portsmouth (loan)  13     (7)

2003–2005 Portsmouth       65     (29)

2005–2007 Middlesbrough 73     (25)

2007–2011 Everton    82     (25)

2011 → Leicester City (loan)          20     (11)

2011–2012 Blackburn Rovers       30     (17)

2012–2013 Guangzhou R&F         43     (24)

2014–2015 Al-Rayyan          8        (3)

2015 Reading     7        (1)

2015–2016 Kayserispor       12     (0)

2017 Coventry City 3   (0)