A hamstring injury meant Samuel Chukwueze could not physically help Villarreal overcome Manchester United on Wednesday in the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League final.
However, he had done enough over the season to help the Yellow Submarine finish the campaign unbeaten in Europe and snag a ticket to the more glamorous UEFA Champions League, even though they finished seventh in La Liga.
The quest, which started on October 22, 2020, ended at the Gdansk Stadium in Poland with the ultimate prize. Chukwueze played the 90 minutes of that first encounter against Turkish side, Sivasspor, and ended 5-3 in favour of the Yellow Submarine.
Throughout the 2020/21 season, the 22-year-old Nigerian, who celebrated his birthday on May 22, played 40 games and contributed five goals and seven assists in all competitions. In the Europa, he participated in 11 games and scored one goal.
Other Nigerians who have won the tournament include:
Kanu Nwankwo in 1998 with Inter Milan
Africa’s golden boy – Kanu- was in the Inter Milan team that won the Europa League, then known as the UEFA Cup in 1998.
Kanu played in the first round against the Swiss side in the two legs which inter won 4-0.
He then had to have heart surgery and did not return to the UEFA Cup till quarter-final second leg against the German side, Schalke 04, which went into extra time.
Kanu played 56 minutes in that second leg. In the semi-final, the 1996 Olympic Games hero played just 19 minutes across both legs against Spartak Moscow, which Inter won 4-2 on aggregate.
In the final against Lazio, Kanu was an unused substitute as the Nerazzurri won 3-0, thanks largely to the brilliance of Ronaldo de Lima.
Taribo West in 1998 with Inter Milan
The hard-as-nails defender played in the same team with Kanu in the 1998 victorious Inter Milan side. West played eight out of the 11 matches the Italian side navigated to the final where they beat Lazio 3-0.
It was West who scored the pivotal goal in the second leg against Schalke 04 that helped Inter beat the German side 2-1 on aggregate. In the final, West played 82 minutes before he was shown a straight red card for violent conduct.
Before his sending off, he combined effectively with Francesco Colonnese in shutting out the likes of Pierluigi Casiraghi and Roberto Mancini.
Chidi Odiah in 2005 with CSKA Moscow
The elegant attacking right fullback was a constant in the CSKA Moscow team that triumphed in 2005.
Odiah played nine of the matches and completed the 90 minutes in seven, which includes the two semi-final legs against Parma, which they won 3-0 on aggregate.
In the final, the Russian club beat the Portuguese side, Sporting CP to lift the 15kg Cup. In all, Odiah scored a goal, against the French side, Auxerre, in the first leg of their quarter-final clash and picked up just one yellow card against Auxerre in the second leg.
Victor Moses with Chelsea in 2013 and 2019
Moses won UEFA’s second tournament in 2013 and six years later in 2019 with Chelsea. After making the move from Wigan in 2012, Moses played in six of Chelsea’s matches on the way to the final, where they beat Benfica 2-1.
Moses played against Sparta Prague in the second leg of the round of 32 encounters. He also played just one minute in the crucial 3-1 second-leg win over Steaua Bucharest that qualified Chelsea 3-2 on aggregate for the quarter-final.
The four legs of the quarter-final and the semi-final are where Moses came to life-scoring a goal in each of the four matches, none more important than the second Chelsea goal against Rubin Kazan in the second leg of that encounter.
In the final, he was an unused substitute as Chelsea triumphed 2-1. He played just 49 minutes in the 2019 triumph under Maurizio Sarri. He almost won again with Inter Milan in 2020 but Sevilla beat the Italian side 3-2 in the final.
Mikel Obi with Chelsea in 2013
Mikel won it with Chelsea in 2013.
He played three full matches-one against Sparta Prague and the two encounters against Steaua Bucharest and was an unused substitute in the final against Benfica.
When Chelsea won the Europa League in 2013, they became the only club to hold the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League at the same time, putting Mikel in that exclusive category.
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