John Chukwudi Utaka (born 8 January 1982) is a Nigerian former footballer who played as a striker and is currently a youth coach at Montpellier HSC. He is the older brother of fellow professional footballer Peter Utaka.[2]

John Utaka
Utaka with Sivasspor in 2013
Personal information
Full name John Chukwudi Utaka
Date of birth (1982-01-08) 8 January 1982 (age 41)
Place of birth Enugu, Nigeria
Height 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)
Position(s) Striker / Winger
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1997–1998 Enugu Rangers 6 (2)
1998–1999 El Mokawloon 25 (5)
1999–2001 Ismaily 42 (30)
2001–2002 Al-Sadd 27 (14)
2002–2005 Lens 102 (24)
2005–2007 Rennes 63 (22)
2007–2011 Portsmouth 90 (10)
2011–2013 Montpellier 68 (12)
2013–2015 Sivasspor 47 (12)
2016 Ismaily 0 (0)
2016 Nogoom El Mostakbal 0 (0)
2017 Aswan 12 (2)
2017–2018 Sedan 14 (0)
Total 496 (133)
International career
2001–2012 Nigeria[1] 49 (6)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Utaka has played for several clubs across three continents, first for Arab Contractors, subsequently Ismaily of Egypt, and then spending a season playing for Al-Sadd of Qatar, before joining RC Lens and later Rennes in France. He has represented Nigeria at two World Cups and three Africa Cup of Nations since his debut in 2002.

During his career he has mainly been utilised as a pacy winger making him a very effective element in a team's counter-attacking style of play. He is the founder of the John Utaka Football Academy Minna, Niger state.

Club career edit

Utaka was born in Enugu, Nigeria. He first moved to Egypt in 1998, joining Arab Contractors and subsequently Ismaily. While with Ismaily, Utaka earned cult status with the local fans. They used to chant "Oh Oh Oh Utaka, Oh Oh Oh Utaka" during the matches.[3] He played alongside the likes of Mohammed Barakat, Islam El-Shater, and captain Mohamed Salah Abo Greisha under the guidance of Mohsen Saleh, later appointed coach of Egypt.

He joined Al-Sadd of Qatar in 2001 for a fee of $1 million. This was then a record transfer fee in Qatar.[4] where he spent one season.

In 2002, he joined French club RC Lens whom he left in 2005 for Rennes.

Utaka struggled to make an impact at the start of his Rennes stint. However, he took advantage of the absence of fellow striker Alexander Frei through injury to make his breakthrough. In February 2006, he scored two consecutive hat-tricks, against Lens and Lyon, and as a result received the L'Équipe's player of the month award.

In July 2017, he signed with fourth-tier side CS Sedan.[5]

Portsmouth edit

Utaka joined Portsmouth on a four-year deal in July 2007, for a fee of around £7 million.[6] He scored his first goal on 11 August 2007 in a game against newly promoted Derby County. Some sources claim he became the club's record signing.[7]

On 17 May 2008, Portsmouth won the FA Cup with a 1–0 victory over Cardiff City. Utaka provided the cross for the winning goal which was scored by Nwankwo Kanu.[8]

He went on to have a poor 2008–09 season but on 27 June 2009 he confirmed he would be staying at the club for at least another season.

The salary being paid to Utaka became a talking point in light of Portsmouth's financial issues, with news agencies reporting an alleged £80,000 per week salary for Utaka as a reflection of their financial mismanagement. Utaka hit out at these reports, claiming that he earned only a third of that figure.[9]

On 23 January 2010, he scored both goals in Portsmouth's 2–1 win over Sunderland in the FA Cup 4th Round.[10]

Montpellier edit

On 29 January 2011, Utaka signed for French first division side Montpellier, agreeing a 2+12-year deal for an undisclosed fee.[11] He made his debut for the new club on 26 February coming on as a 70th-minute substitute for Olivier Giroud in a 0–0 draw with Sochaux.[12]

Utaka scored his first goal of the new Ligue 1 season, and his first for the club, against Ajaccio on 21 September 2011, and also provided an assist as Montpellier defeated Ajaccio 3–1 in Corsica.[13] On 19 February 2012, Montpellier travelled to the Parc des Princes to face league leaders PSG; he headed in an 81st-minute goal from a Giroud cross but a late tap in from Guillaume Hoarau levelled the game at 2–2 and earned the sides a share of the points.[14] Montpellier played host to Bordeaux six days later and he headed home the only goal of the game in the 80th minute to keep up the pressure on league leaders PSG.[15] On 20 May 2012, in a game marred by stoppages for crowd violence, Utaka scored a brace, his sixth and seventh league goals of the campaign, to secure a 2–1 victory over Auxerre and win the Ligue 1 title for Montpellier over PSG, for the first time in the club's history.[16]

Sivasspor edit

On 1 August 2013, Utaka joined the Turkish club Sivasspor on a two-year contract.[17]

International career edit

Utaka played for Nigeria until 2014 and was a participant at the 2002 World Cup.[18] He started four of Nigeria's six games in the 2006 African Cup of Nations, in which Nigeria finished in third place. He was also part of the Nigeria squad that participated in the 2010 World Cup.[19]

Honours edit

Ismaily SC

Al Sadd SC





References edit

  1. ^ "John Chukwudi Utaka - International Appearances". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation.
  2. ^ "John Utaka To Stay at Premier League Outfit Portsmouth, Explains Brother". 5 June 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
  3. ^ "John Utaka biography, net worth, age, family, contact & picture". Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  4. ^ "النيجيري اوتاكا الى السد في أغلى صفقة قطرية". 14 July 2001. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  5. ^ "John Utaka renforce Sedan". L'Équipe (in French). 18 July 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Portsmouth bring in striker Utaka". BBC Sport. 11 July 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2007.
  7. ^ Burt, Jason (12 July 2007). "Portsmouth splash out again to seal Utaka deal". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  8. ^ "A dream come true". The FA. 17 May 2008. Archived from the original on 6 September 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  9. ^ "Portsmouth striker John Utaka hits out at wages reports". BBC Sport. 17 February 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2010.
  10. ^ "Portsmouth 2–1 Sunderland". BBC News. 23 January 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Striker John Utaka leaves Portsmouth for Montpellier". BBC News. 29 January 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  12. ^ "Sochaux vs. Montpellier - Football Match Report - February 26, 2011 - ESPN".
  13. ^ "Ajaccio 1 - 3 Montpellier Match preview - 9/21/11 Ligue 1 -".
  14. ^ "Paris Saint-Germain vs. Montpellier - Football Match Report - February 19, 2012 - ESPN".
  15. ^ "Montpellier vs. Bordeaux - Football Match Report - February 25, 2012 - ESPN".
  16. ^ "Yahoo UK & Ireland - Sports News - Live Scores - Results". Yahoo Sports.
  17. ^ "Nigerian striker John Utaka joins Sivasspor". Oluwashina Okeleji. BBC News. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  18. ^ "FIFA Tournaments – Players & Coaches – John UTAKA". FIFA. Archived from the original on 10 April 2008.
  19. ^ "Uche misses out for Super Eagles". BBC News. 31 May 2010.
  20. ^ "Egyptian Cup Final 1999/2000". Egyptian Football Network. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  21. ^ "17th Arab Club Champions Cup 2001". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  22. ^ "Portsmouth 1–0 Cardiff". BBC News. 17 May 2008. Archived from the original on 21 January 2009. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  23. ^ "Utaka double lands Montpellier the French league title". BBC. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  24. ^ "African Nations Cup 2004".

External links edit