Peter Odemwingie: Loose Cannon

nigerian peter odemwingie

Player Profile: Peter Odemwingie

Date of Birth: 16/06/1981

Height: 6 ft

Position: Forward, winger

National Team: Nigeria 

International Caps: 63

International Goals: 10

Club Career

In a professional career spanning 18 years, Peter Odemwingie achieved 63 international caps, scored over 100 league goals and became an internet sensation following his transfer deadline day antics. But we’ll get to that later.

Born in Uzbekistan to a Nigerian father and Russian mother he moved to Nigeria when he was two and spent his teenage years in Russia. Here he played in the youth teams of CSKA Moscow and KAMAZ before moving back to Nigeria aged 17. After a brief stint at amateur club AS Racines Lagos he signed a professional contract with Nigerian Premier League side Bendel Insurance. Between 2000 and 2002 he made 53 league appearances during which he scored 19 goals. 

His excellent form attracted the attention of both Anderlecht and La Louviere in Belgium, with the latter finally capturing his signature for the remainder of the 2002/03 season. He made an immediate impact helping his new club win the Belgian Cup. In doing so, La Louviere gained qualification for the UEFA Cup the following season. 

Odemwingie scored 10 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions during his two years in Belgium. He was far from prolific, but his technique and all-round game was second to none. He had pace too. Lots of it. Which would prove to be a deadly asset.

By now bigger clubs in Europe where monitoring Odemwingie’s development. He had an unsuccessful trial with Blackburn Rovers before signing for French side Lille. In his first season at the club he scored 4 league goals in 20 appearances, with the majority of his appearances coming from the bench.

The following season, though, the Nigerian cemented his place in the starting eleven scoring 14 goals in 26 Ligue 1 appearances. Despite scoring just 5 league goals in the 2006/07 season Odemwingie’s stock was rising. In the summer of 2007, he completed a big-money move to Lokomotiv Moscow for a reported $14 million.

Over the course of five seasons, he would become the focal point of their attack. Odemwingie averaged a goal every three games before earning himself a move to England’s top flight. West Brom signed the Nigeria international for an undisclosed fee on a two-year contract. A day after signing for the Baggies, Odemwingie scored a late winner on his Premier League debut. 

In April he became the first West Brom player in history to score in four consecutive Premier League games and ended the season as the club’s top score with 15 league goals. His excellent form attracted the attention of European giants Juventus, but Odemwingie dispelled the interest.

In August 2011, Odemwingie signed a new three-year contract at the Hawthorns. After several niggling injuries at the start of the 2011/12 season, he went on to score 10 goals in 30 league appearances including his first Premier League hat-trick against rivals Wolves.

After a bright start to his West Brom career things soon turned sour. On January 25th 2013 the club announced they’d rejected a transfer request from the Nigerian striker. A decision Odemwingie did not take lightly. He took to Twitter to vent his frustrations and reiterated his desire to leave the club. A few days later, on the final day of the January transfer window, Odemwingie was famously spotted in his car outside Loftus Road. He was trying to force a move to QPR, but a deal was never agreed. The footage, which was broadcast on Sky Sports News, went viral within minutes. He was the subject of thousands of memes. It was iconic.

On his return to West Brom, Odemwingie was disciplined by the club and left out of the side for several weeks. He featured as a substitute against Sunderland on February 23rd and was subsequently jeered by his own fans. Steve Clarke continued to use Odemwingie as a substitute for the remainder of the season, which resulted in the Nigerian once again taking to Twitter to vent his frustrations. That was the final straw for Clarke and the West Brom hierarchy, and Odemwingie left the club at the end of the season. He signed a two-year contract at Cardiff but left the club after just four months after falling out of favour with new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 

Odemwingie remained in England, signing for Stoke in a swap deal with target man Kenwyne Jones going the other way. He made 15 appearances throughout the rest of the season scoring five league goals. The 2014/15 campaign would be a write-off. Odemwingie suffered a serious knee injury against Manchester City in August which ruled him out for most of the season.

He once again struggled for game time during the 2015/16 season at Stoke. Odemwingie was therefore sent out on loan to Championship side Bristol City. At the Robins, he scored his first goal in almost two years and went on to make seven appearances.

At the end of the season, Odemwingie was released by Stoke. After an unsuccessful trial at Hull he signed a short term contract at Rotherham. His time at the New York Stadium was short, making just seven league appearances without scoring, and he was sent off in a game against Leeds. Once his short term contract was up, Odemwingie reportedly sent a text to his manager stating he was leaving the club, classy.

Aged 36, Odemwingie left the English game and signed for Madura United in the Indonesian Liga 1. He scored 15 goals in 22 appearances before announcing his retirement from professional football April 3rd 2019.

International Career

Peter Odemwingie made his Nigeria debut against Kenya on May 4th 2002 and scored his first international goal in the 2004 Nations Cup qualifiers. Two years later at the Africa Cup Of Nations, he was in the starting eleven for Nigeria’s semi-final defeat to Ivory Coast.

In 2008 Odemwingie was selected for Nigeria’s Olympic Squad. The Super Eagles earner a silver medal in the tournament after losing in the final to a star-studded Argentina side. 

Odemwingie was a fiery character and openly criticised the Nigeria coaching staff following significant defeats at 2010 Africa Cup Of Nations and World Cup. 

Despite not featuring for the national side for over a year Odemwingie was a surprise inclusion for the 2014 Nigeria World Cup. He scored the only goal of the match against Bosnia in the group stage to hand the Super Eagles their first World Cup win since 1998.

Overall, Peter Odemwingie scored 10 goals in 63 appearances for Nigeria.

Where is Peter Odemwingie now?

Since retiring, Peter Odemwingie has turned his hand to golf with the aim of qualifying for the EuroPro Tour in the coming years. He has begun his PGA training and has stated that he is “ready to make some noise” as a golfer.

True to form, he’s still vocal on social media, regularly sharing his thoughts on his Twitter account.