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Yakubu

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Yakubu Ayegbeni (born 22 November 1982), known as Yakubu, is a Nigerian former professional footballer who played as a striker. His nickname is "The Yak".

His performances in the 2002–03 UEFA Champions League for Maccabi Haifa earned a loan move to English club Portsmouth which became permanent as they were promoted to the Premier League in 2003. He has since appeared in over 250 Premier League matches for Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton, and Blackburn Rovers, and is the second highest African goalscorer in Premier League history with 96 goals. He is the third highest scorer in the history of the Nigeria national football team, and represented them at four African Cup of Nations finals, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Club career

Early career

Yakubu was born in Benin City, Edo State.He started his career with Julius Berger in Lagos as a teenager in the Nigerian Premier League. He was later loaned to Portuguese club Gil Vicente.

Maccabi Haifa

Israeli side Maccabi Haifa paid Julius Berger $300,000 for his signature.Yakubu's highest scoring season at Haifa was 2001–02, when he scored 13 times in 22 games (League season was 33 matches). He came to England and trained with Derby County but could not obtain a work permit at the time

Portsmouth

Yakubu moved to English club Portsmouth of the First Division (now the Championship) on loan on 6 January 2003. Signed by Harry Redknapp, Yakubu helped Portsmouth win the 2002–03 First Division title, scoring at a rate of one goal every two games (7 in 14 matches). He made his debut as a 57th-minute substitute for Vincent Péricard in a 1–1 away match versus Brighton & Hove Albion on 18 January. On 1 February he started for the first time and scored after 4 minutes at home to Grimsby Town. The match ended 3–0 with Yakubu substituted for Péricard after 89 minutes. Seven days later, Yakubu scored a goal in each half of a 6–2 victory over Derby County for his first brace in English football. He gained his second brace of the season with two first-half goals in a 5–0 away victory at Millwall on 1 March.

Middlesbrough

After the 2004–05 season, he transferred from Portsmouth to Middlesbrough for a £7.5 million record fee, the highest for a Nigerian ever.Yakubu scored the only goal of the game with a penalty in the first leg of the UEFA Cup last 16 round at home against Roma, giving Middlesbrough a 1–0 victory, who later went through on away goals. His performances were rewarded, as he helped Middlesbrough reach the 2006 UEFA Cup Final against Sevilla, in which they lost 4–0.

Everton

Yakubu was transferred to Everton in August 2007 for a fee of £11.25 million on a five-year contract, which was at the time the most the club had ever paid for a player. Shunning the traditional centre-forwards' number 9, Yakubu asked to be assigned number 22, setting this number as a goal-scoring target for his first season a feat he fell one goal short of achieving. He scored 11 minutes into his debut for the club, the first goal in a 2–1 win against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium in September 2007

Leicester City

Yakubu joined Leicester City on loan until the end of the season on 13 January 2011, with the possibility of a permanent transfer. He made his debut and scored in a 1–1 draw against Preston North End on 15 January 2011,followed by another goal in a 4–2 win over Millwall on 22 January

Blackburn Rovers

On 31 August 2011, Yakubu signed a three-year contract with Blackburn Rovers for an undisclosed fee and was assigned the number 24 shirt by manager Steve Kean.He scored his first and second goals for Blackburn Rovers on 17 September on his Premier League debut against Arsenal in which Blackburn won 4–3.

Guangzhou R&F

Yakubu confirmed on 28 June 2012 that he had left Blackburn and had signed for Chinese side Guangzhou R&F, on an initial three-year contract. On 15 July, Yakubu made his Chinese Super League debut in a Guangzhou Derby match which Guangzhou R&F played against Guangzhou Evergrande at Tianhe Stadium.

Reading

On 2 February 2015, Reading signed free agent Yakubu on a contract until the end of the 2014–15 season On 14 February, Yakubu scored his first goal for the Royals with the winner in a 2–1 defeat of Derby County at Pride Park to put the club into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Yakubu was released by Reading on 21 May 2015.

Kayserispor

On 31 August 2015, Yakubu signed a one-year contract, with the option of an additional year, with Süper Lig side Kayserispor.

Coventry City

On 13 February 2017, Yakubu signed for Coventry City until the end of the 2016–17 season.On 5 April 2017, having featured only three times due to suffering a hamstring injury, Yakubu's Coventry City contract was terminated by mutual consent. He announced his retirement from football on 22 November 2017.

International career

Yakubu has scored 21 goals in his 57 appearances for Nigeria since his 2000 debut. He is currently the third highest ever international goalscorer for Nigeria

Personal life

In 2008, Yakubu married Yvonne Lameen Ikhana, the daughter of former Nigerian international footballer Kadiri Ikhana, who is also the father-in-law to former Nigerian international footballer Patrick Ovie. Yakubu and Ikhana have 2 daughters named Kayla and Katriel. He used to play barefoot on the streets of Benin, Nigeria, until his brother gave him a pair of boots aged 12.

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