Premier League Cult Heroes: Yakubu

Feed the Yak and he will score.

That chant would that would follow Yakubu around the Premier League en route to securing Premier League cult hero status via Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton and Blackburn. The Nigerian poacher had real purple patches but consistently terrified Premier League defences in his pomp. He looked set to help take Moyes’ ever-improving Everton side to the next level when he joined in 2007. The Nigerian refused the number 9 shirt and opted for the number 22, a signal of his goal target for the season. He finished one goal shy of this in all competitions, despite spending much of January in Ghana for the African Cup of Nations. However, Yakubu’s Everton career was all too soon to be hampered by an Achilles injury which saw him face spells on the sidelines.

With 95 Premier League goals ‘The Yak’ is the third highest scoring African in Premier League history. Coincidentally, he is also Nigeria’s third highest international goalscorer with 21 goals.

As alluded to, his goals did seem to come in spells but the centre forward was as strong as an ox and hit double figures in seven of his twelve Premier League seasons. Interestingly, his most prolific Premier League season was his last, scoring 17 in 30 league games for Blackburn Rovers. However, this was not enough to save Blackburn from relegation and Yakubu subsequently went to China, far from thrilled at the prospect of another spell in the Championship, having helped get Portsmouth promoted in 2004 as well as a spell on loan at Leicester in the 2010/11 season.

Having scored over 100 goals in England, Yakubu is remembered fondly by English football fans and reminds them of an era of a traditional number 9, in style if not by number. His formidable partnership with Kevin Lua-Lua at Portsmouth, his league and UEFA cup exploits with Middlesbrough, leading the line for Moyes’ Everton and his last hurrah season at Blackburn cement the Yak’s status as a Premier League cult hero. Often having not played for a traditional top side aids players in being remembered fondly by fans of the Premier League and Yakubu’s links with a number of clubs certainly helped his cause. A very memorable career, if not successful in the traditional sense of winner’s medals and accolades.

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