Kelechi Iheanacho scored a hat-trick in Leicester City’s 5-0 thrashing of Sheffield United in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
It was Iheanacho’s second career hat-trick, but his first in the English top-flight. However, the former Manchester City man is not the first Nigerian to achieve this feat in the Premier League, so Soccernet takes a look at Nigerian stars that have scored a hat-trick in the English top-flight.
Efan Ekoku (Norwich) vs Everton 1993
Efan Ekoku made history 28 years ago as he became the first Nigerian to score a hat-trick in the Premier League and the first player to score more than three goals.
The former Nigerian international turned commentator scored a whopping four goals as Norwich thrashed Everton 5-1.
Strangely, it was the Toffees that drew the first blood in the 13th minute, courtesy of a strike from Andy Hinchcliffe.
But from then on, it became the Ekoku show. The former Wimbledon striker restored parity for the Canaries just before the break, firing past Neville Southall following a brilliant run.
Ekoku then put Norwich ahead just before the hour mark courtesy of a header off a Christ Sutton cross. The ex-Super Eagles star completed his hat-trick in the 69th minute as he finished off Ruel Fox that had been initially saved by Southall.
His fourth came after he beat two Everton defenders with his pace before rounding off Southall to finish into an empty net.
Sutton made it five with 13 minutes left, but the day belonged to the history-making Ekoku.
Kanu Nwankwo (Arsenal) vs Chelsea 1999
Remember the iconic ” Kanu believe it” commentary from Martin Tyler? Well, it was after Kanu Nwankwo scored a remarkable hat-trick to help Arsenal to a famous comeback win at Chelsea in 1999.
The Blues were well on course for a routine win after Tore Andre Flo and Dan Petrescu headers in the 39th and 52nd minute put them two ahead.
However, Kanu scored three times in the last 15 minutes to secure an incredible comeback win for the Gunners at Stamford Bridge.
The former Super Eagles star reduced the deficit for Arsenal with a brilliant toe-poked finish in the 75th minute before firing past Ed de Goey in the 83rd minute to level the scores for Arsene Wenger’s men.
But it was his third that was the pick of the bunch as it came from an impossible angle. The Nigerian international capitalised on a poor pass from Davor Suker, before blocking Albert Ferrer’s clearance, which allowed him to head towards goal from the touchline.
Goey ran out of his goal to tackle the Nigerian, but Kanu evaded his challenge with a dummy. However, it was still impossible for him to score from that angle, while there were two Chelsea defenders on the goal line.
Kanu was not put off, though, as he curled home a ball that flew over Marcel Desailly and sealed a 3-2 win for Arsenal.
It was a day that cemented his place in Arsenal’s history.
Peter Odemwingie (West Brom) vs Wolves 2012
Osaze Odemwingie was a brilliant signing for West Brom despite the drama that surrounded his exit.
The retired footballer turned golfer won three Premier League player of the month awards with the Baggies- the most by a Nigerian in the competition’s history.
Odemwingie’s finest moment with West Brom came in the 5-1 win over Wolves at the Molineux in 2012. The former Stoke City striker scored his only hat-trick in the Premier League on that day.
He opened the scoring for West Brom courtesy of a deflected strike before firing home from close range in the second half for his second goal.
Odemwingie completed his hat-trick with another perfect finish following a brilliant counter-attack from the Baggies.
Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Portsmouth, Everton and Blackburn)
When it comes to hat-tricks, no African star has scored more than Yakubu Aiyegbeni in the Premier League.
A prolific goalscorer in his time, Aiyegbeni is currently the third-highest scoring African in the English top-flight with 95 goals.
The former Super Eagles star is in a special group of five players to have scored a hat-trick for three different clubs.
Aiyebeni also holds the distinction of being the only player to have scored a perfect hat-trick for two different clubs. The 38-year-old’s first Premier League hat-trick was for Portsmouth in a 5-1 win over Middlesbrough in 2004.
Aiyegbeni scored four times in that encounter at Fratton Park. He scored his second hat-trick in Portsmouth 4-3 win over Fulham in August 2004.
Aiyegbeni’s third hat-trick also came against Fulham, but this time for Everton in December 2007. Four years later, the ex Nigerian international scored four times for the second time in a Premier League game as Blackburn beat Swansea.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City) vs Sheffield United (2021)
Kelechi Iheanacho is the newest member of Nigeria’s hat-trick club. The 24-year-old scored three times to help the Foxes thrash the Blades on Sunday afternoon.
Seniorman Kelechi. pic.twitter.com/Y4y7AKfHtR
— Leicester City (@LCFC) March 14, 2021
Iheanacho first goal came via a tap-in before finishing off Jamie Vardy’s low cross for his second. His third was a long-range effort from outside.