Efangwu Goziem Ekoku (born 8 June 1967) is a Nigerian former footballer who played as a striker. During his club career, he played for Merton, Sutton United, Bournemouth, Norwich City, Wimbledon, Grasshopper, Sheffield Wednesday and Dublin City and the Nigerian national team.
|Full name||Efangwu Goziem Ekoku|
|Date of birth||8 June 1967|
|Place of birth||Cheetham Hill, Manchester, England|
|2000–2001||→ Sheffield Wednesday (loan)||32||(7)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Ekoku began his career at non-league level, but made the move into league football in the summer of 1990 when he signed for Harry Redknapp's Bournemouth, who had just been relegated to the Third Division. His start in the Football League was unspectacular, as he managed just 20 games and three goals during the 1990–91 season for a Cherries side who finished mid table. He did better in 1991–92, scoring 11 goals in 28 league games. He managed seven goals from 14 games in 1992–93 before a £500,000 move to Norwich City on 26 March 1993 took him to the Premier League.
He arrived at Carrow Road when Norwich were in the thick of the title race under the management of Mike Walker. Ekoku scored three goals in ten games in what was left of that exciting campaign, and although Norwich were beaten to the title by Manchester United, Ekoku and his teammates had achieved a third-place finish and qualified for the UEFA Cup.
He scored Norwich's first ever goal in European competition, against Vitesse Arnhem in the UEFA Cup on 15 September 1993, and famously helped them eliminate German giants Bayern Munich in the next round. Just 10 days later he scored four goals as Norwich beat Everton 5–1 at Goodison Park, becoming the first player to score more than three goals in a Premier League game. He managed a total of 27 league games that season, scoring 12 goals in the league (and 14 times in all competitions), although a slump in league form after manager Mike Walker departed to Everton in January saw the Canaries finish 12th in the league that season.
He remained at Carrow Road until 14 October 1994, when a £1million fee took him to Wimbledon to replace long-serving John Fashanu as strike partner to Dean Holdsworth. Ekoku had played six times for the Canaries in 1994-95, but didn't score a goal and was faced with competition for a regular place in the Carrow Road attack from new signing Mike Sheron.
He was the club's top scorer in the league that season with nine goals as they finished ninth in the league and maintained their reputation as one of the hardest Premier League teams to beat, although they struggled to score many goals and rarely hit more than two in a match that campaign.
He managed seven goals in the 1995–96 season and had a particularly exciting campaign in 1996–97, when Wimbledon finished eighth and were semi-finalists in both of the domestic cups. He was also their top scorer with 11 league goals.
However, his first team chances were restricted over the next two seasons, and after nearly a year on the transfer list - and a number of clubs expressing interest in signing him - he moved to Switzerland in a £500,000 move to Grasshoppers Zurich on 27 August 1999. He had first requested to leave the club a year earlier, when he had declared his interest in joining a bigger Premier League club, and was subject of interest from the likes of Everton, Leicester City, Nottingham Forest and Southampton, with fees as high as £4million being quoted.
His first season in Switzerland was very successful, as he scored 16 goals in 21 games, although he failed to pick up any silverware. He played a further seven games and scored three goals before returning to England on a free transfer to Sheffield Wednesday on 20 October 2000.
He arrived at Hillsborough just months after the Owls had been relegated from the Premier League and were battling against a second successive relegation. His seven goals from 32 Division One games helped secure survival by some margin as the Owls finished 17th, and they narrowly avoided the drop once again the following year, with Ekoku playing his part by scoring a further seven league goals. However, he did not feature in the disastrous 2002–03 campaign, where the Owls were relegated to Division Two. Having been out of the first team picture for a whole year, he was given a free transfer and signed for Division Two strugglers Brentford in March 2003, but failed to win a call into the squad before his release at the end of the season. He finished his career in Ireland with Dublin City before finally retiring in 2004.
Efan currently works as a commentator for Premier League Productions, which produces the world feed commentaries. He was picked to be Match Analyst for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, working for ESPN. In 2013, he appeared as a pundit for the BBC's coverage of the FIFA Confederations Cup. Efan currently is a weekly guest on Football Dynamics on Bloomberg Africa. Ekoku returned to ESPN for the 2014 World Cup as a match analyst. Ekoku currently works with BT Sport for their coverage of Champions League, Europa League, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga.
His brother, Abi Ekoku, is a former British discus champion and also played professional rugby league for the club then known as London Crusaders. Another brother Nko had a successful career in non-league football with Harrow Borough, Sutton United and Worthing FC.
- "Flown From the Nest – Efan Ekoku". www.ex-canaries.co.uk. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
- "Brentford | News | Latest News | Latest News | EKOKU SIGNS". world.brentfordfc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 12 February 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
- "Efan Ekoku" "Sportingheroes.net" 20 September 1997
- "Norwich City | Club | History | History | NEW HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES". world.canaries.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 February 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
- "Efan Ekoku Match Analyst 2010 FIFA World Cup" ESPNews 3 May 2010, retrieved 28 May 2010.
- "Efan Ekoku". Archived from the original on 5 June 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2010. "Efan Ekoku Match Analyst 2010 FIFA World Cup" ESPNews 3 May 2010.
- "Norwich City | Club | History | History | NEW HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES". canaries.co.uk. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
- Efan Ekoku at Soccerbase