Terem Moffi, Nigeria

Nigeria's Ligue 1 stars

Nigeria's Ligue 1 stars

Publish on 04/27 at 12:21 - I. HOLYMAN


Terem Moffi's hat-trick for Lorient in their emphatic win over Bordeaux in Round 34 means he has now scored more times in Ligue 1 than Victor Osimhen and needs just two goals to equal the French top-flight's single-season record for a Nigerian.

Moffi swept in his first hat-trick in French football as Lorient gave themselves some breathing space at the foot of the table in their battle against relegation, and with it moved onto 14 goals this season, his first in Ligue 1.


It means he has bettered the 13 strikes his friend and youth international teammate Osimhen managed at Lille last season, and moved to within a brace of Victor Ikpeba, the ex-Monaco striker who netted 16 times in the 1997/98 season — ligue1.com takes a closer look at some of the Super Eagles who took flight in France before Moffi.


Victor Ikpeba, Monaco (1993-99)

Like Osimhen and Moffi, Ikpeba found his way to Ligue 1 via Belgium. He would even finish his career back there in Charleroi after a spell at Borussia Dortmund among others, but Monaco was where he played his best football in Europe. 


He tallied a modest 15 goals in his first three seasons combined, but then hit 13 in 31 top-flight matches in 96/97 before his record-setting efforts the following campaign. 


Fifty-five league goals in 170 games in the principality club's red-and-white shirt are the reason why he is one of Monaco's footballing royalty.


"I played the best football of my career in Monaco," said Ikpeba, who is still known as 'The Prince of Monaco' in his native country. "Wherever I go around the country, people still call me that." 


Vincent Enyeama, Lille (2011-18)

Lille fans had already enjoyed the talents of Nigeria international forward Peter Odemwingie, but it was the Super Eagles' most-capped player who became a real club icon during seven years in northern France. 


He achieved cult status despite having to wait until René Girard made him number one in the 2013/14 season before being able to fully showcase his talents, backstopping a side that would finish third that term.


WATCH: Victor Enyeama's top five Ligue 1 saves




With 11 consecutive clean sheets that campaign, he came within just 114 minutes of Gaëtan Huard's league record of 1176 minutes without conceding a goal. He eventually finished with 17 clean sheets, and that achievement made him the first goalkeeper to be named Ligue 1 African Player of the Season. 


He ended up playing 164 competitive matches, 143 of which came in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, for Lille, and also helped them to the 2015/16 Coupe de la Ligue final.


John Utaka, Lens (2002-05), Rennes (2005-07), Montpellier (2011-13)

Utaka may be best known in European football for providing the cross that enabled compatriot Nwankwo Kanu to score the winning goal in the 2007/08 FA Cup final when the Nigerian pair teamed up for Portsmouth, but it was his three spells in France that made his reputation.


Ask a Lens fan about Utaka, and they will remember his goal to earn a point at home to Bayern Munich in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League group stage and his matchwinner against AC Milan later in the same competition.


Talk to a Rennes supporter and their mind will immediately turn to his back-to-back hat-tricks against Lens and Lyon — both resounding 4-1 wins — in 2005/06 league games. 


Montpellier fans know it was Utaka who scored both goals in the 2-1 win at Auxerre that secured them the club's only Ligue 1 title on the final day of the 2011/12 season, pipping a high-powered Paris Saint-Germain to the crown.


"We had a lot of  young players in the team, and we were going head-to-head with PSG for the league. On paper, they were the best team, because they had the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and other great players, but we were more of a collective team," said Utaka, who is now part of Montpellier's coaching staff.


"And with these boys not having much experience and winning the league was special for me."


Jay-Jay Okocha, Paris Saint-Germain (1998-2002)

Wilson Oruma played nearly 200 Ligue 1 games, winning the league with Lens in 1997/98, lifting the Coupe de la Ligue with Sochaux in 2004, and picking up the Coupe de France with Guingamp — then in Ligue 2 — in 2009 following a three-year spell at Marseille.


Okocha won less in France — the 1998 Trophée des Champions and the 2001 Intertoto Cup were his only medals — during his four years at PSG, but boy did he make an impression.


Not one of his 84 Ligue 1 appearances went by without an outrageous piece of skill from one of the most naturally gifted players to grace European football, nevermind the game in France.


"Okocha was a good guy, the joy of living embodied, someone who had an exceptional peripheral vision, a bit like Platini," said Philippe Bergeroo, who was Okocha's PSG boss between March 1999 and December 2000. 


"He knew where all the players were. In taking visual information, he was exceptional. In the end, our relationship deteriorated. But I'm glad I had a player like that." So was everyone else.


Taribo West, Auxerre (1993-97)

Taye Taiwo and Joseph Yobo both played with distinction for Marseille, but West left France a title winner. The combination of the flamboyant Nigerian and the curmudgeonly Guy Roux was as unlikely as the pair of them playing a part in taking Auxerre — a former youth club — to the top of French football, but that is exactly what they did in a fairytale 1995/96 season.


"He was a real phenomenon that one," explained Roux, who saw West also lift the Coupe de France that same campaign as well as in the 1993/94 season. 


"Before games, he took a candle and in the dressing room, he said a prayer surrounded by the players. We said the prayer with him. He started in his own language, then switched to English, and finished with 'On est tous les auxerrois!' (We are all from Auxerre!)"


>> PODCAST: The official Ligue 1 podcast, Le Beau Jeu


>> STATATTACK: Moffi's Ligue 1 hat-trick


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