Where are Ekoku’s key teammates of 93/94 now?
With Premier League football conspicuous in its recent absence, many fans find themselves fondly reminiscing about the cult heroes of years past. Nigeria has never wanted for representation in the Premier League, and amongst the earliest imports was Efan Ekoku, who joined a high-flying Norwich City back in March 1993.
A third-place finish that year meant Ekoku would immediately enjoy a UEFA Cup campaign, and he duly became the first Norwich player ever to score in a European competition. Ekoku was also the first player to net a Premier League quartet in one match:
Four of Ekoku’s teammates, in particular, were the nucleus of Norwich’s fleeting success, and this is how their careers unfolded after the 1993/94 campaign – Ekoku’s only full season at Norwich:
More than just a lion-hearted goalkeeper, Gunn was a man on whom people could rely on a personal level for morale. With strong characters like this in the current squad, Norwich would not have gone into March with their English Premier League futures wagering price for relegation hovering around an alarming -1000.
He stuck with Norwich until January 1998, before moving back to his native Scotland and making several appearances for Edinburgh club Hibernian. Sadly, injuries would force his retirement in March 1999. He would have a short-lived reign as Norwich manager in 2009, and today works as a director of youth talent recruitment at a sports agency.
Goss was a certified hero in Norwich’s return of two wins and two draws from their first four UEFA Cup games. He scored in both wins, the latter of which contributed to a 2-1 victory at Bayern Munich, which even now is considered one of the greatest European shocks involving a victorious English club. He was also on the scoresheet against Bayern in the return leg, which ended 1-1.
The Welsh midfielder was famous for his skills on the volley, and also notable for scoring the final goal (a decisive winner) in front of Liverpool’s old ‘Kop End’, prior to its 1994 demolition:
Goss departed in 1996 as a legendary figure on the Carrow Road terraces. However, he would make just 31 appearances in total, across spells with Hearts, Colchester and King’s Lynn. Goss is currently a motivational speaker and mentor, as well as a supporter of the Norfolk and Norwich Association of the Blind.
Bowen was the other Norwich goalscorer in that famous 2-1 win at Bayern. A strong vice-captain in defence, Bowen additionally managed five goal-scoring league appearances in the 1993/94 campaign, but was on the winning side only once across the matches in question.
Overall, Bowen would make 321 appearances for Norwich between 1987 and 1996, before moving to West Ham to continue at the top level. He made just 17 appearances for the Hammers though, and after a brief stint with Japanese side Shimizu, he returned to London for one final trick – getting Charlton into the Premier League for the first time in 1998.
Just six appearances for the Addicks in 1998/99 would never be enough to make the difference in a relegation battle which would be lost on the final day of that campaign.
Bowen had a quiet end to his career, making just seven and zero appearances for Wigan and Reading respectively. However, he currently manages the latter club, with a respectable win rate of 38.71% lifting the Royals up the table, after the club survived a brush with relegation under his predecessor’s regime.
Sutton was a thoroughly clinical striker on his day, and was at his absolute best in 1993/94, scoring 25 goals in 41 league appearances. Sadly for Norwich, that form would provoke Blackburn manager Kenny Dalglish into using his club’s considerable resources, and offering Sutton a huge deal to join his revolutionary squad in 1994/95. The rest is history, Sutton immediately formed a deadly partnership with Alan Shearer over at Blackburn, leaving Ekoku without a vital strike partner.
After netting 48 times across 158 total appearances for Blackburn and Chelsea between 1994 and 2000, Sutton continued the trend of former Norwich alumni moving north. However, his port of call was Scottish giants Celtic, with whom he enjoyed a career-best return of 63 goals from 130 appearances.
He continued playing top-level football until 2007, finishing his professional career with Aston Villa. Today, after a poor spell at Lincoln between 2009 and 2010 – which lasted just one day short of a year after a win rate of only 28% – he works for BT Sport as a regular pundit for Scottish Premiership games.
Ekoku’s Norwich legacy is modest, but assured
Norwich would eventually bow out of the 1993/94 UEFA Cup at the third hurdle after a run that exceeded expectations. Overall, he was an excellent first representative of Nigeria in the Premier League, retrospectively underlining just how much similar talents were needed before the last World Cup.
Despite playing just one full season for Norwich, Ekoku yielded an impressive return of 16 goals in 38 appearances during his time at Carrow Road, equating to a goal nearly every other game. Shortly after Sutton’s departure, Ekoku was snared by Wimbledon in October 1994. Almost inevitably, the wins dried up for Norwich in 1995, culminating in their relegation.
Norwich would not return to the Premier League for another nine years.
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