Samuel Okunowo

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Samuel Okunowo
Personal information
Full name Samuel Gbenga Okunowo
Date of birth (1979-03-01) 1 March 1979 (age 39)
Place of birth Ibadan, Nigeria
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position Right back
Youth career
1993–1995 Kwara Bombers
1997–1998 Barcelona
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1995–1997 Shooting Stars
1998–2001 Barcelona 14 (0)
1999–2000 Benfica (loan) 9 (1)
2000–2001 Badajoz (loan) 0 (0)
2001–2003 Ionikos 0 (0)
2003–2004 Dinamo Bucureşti 2 (0)
2004–2005 KF Tirana 0 (0)
2005–2007 Metalurh Donetsk 2 (0)
2006–2007 Stal (loan) 11 (0)
2009 VB Sports 4 (0)
2009 Waltham Forest 20 (0)
2012–2013 Sunshine Stars 30 (3)
Total 92 (4)
National team
1999 Nigeria U20 5 (0)
1997–2000 Nigeria 8 (0)
2000 Nigeria Olympic 3 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Samuel Gbenga Okunowo (born 1 March 1979) is a Nigerian retired footballer who played mainly as a right back.

Injury affected the vast majority of his professional career, which was spent in eight different countries other than his own.

Club career[edit]

Born in Ibadan, Okunowo signed with La Liga club FC Barcelona at only 18. In the 1998–99 season he competed for the starting spot in the first team with Michael Reiziger,[1] and managed 21 appearances all competitions comprised (15 starts) as the Catalans went on to win the national championship.[2]

However, Okunowo did not manage to remain with Barça, going on to serve two unassuming loans, with Portugal's S.L. Benfica and Spanish second division club CD Badajoz and being released in June 2002. He went on to represent – with very little impact as well – teams in four different countries: Greece, Romania, Albania and Ukraine.[3]

In 2007, Okunowo was on trial at Northwich Victoria of the Conference National and Vilanova del Camí in the Spanish amateur leagues, but nothing came of it. Two years later, he returned to active with VB Sports Club in the Maldives; in October 2009, however, he joined England's Waltham Forest, playing in a league eight levels below the Premier League.[4]

In February 2010, Okunowo underwent a trial with Polish Ekstraklasa side Odra Wodzislaw, in an attempt to return to top flight football,[5] but nothing materialized. He also met the same fate whilst looking for a club in Norway.[6]

On 5 January 2012, Okunowo returned to his homeland and signed with Sunshine Stars F.C. for one Nigerian Premier League campaign.[7] He retired the following year, aged 34.

International career[edit]

Okunowo represented Nigeria at the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship (helping the hosts reach the quarter-finals), the 2000 African Cup of Nations and the 2000 Summer Olympics,[8] winning eight caps with the senior team.

Personal life[edit]

In July 2012, Okunowo lost all his possessions when a fire broke in his mansion in Ibadan.[9] He subsequently reached out for help from former club Barcelona,[10] which obliged.[11]


  1. ^ "Okunowo el último fichaje" [Okunowo the last signing] (PDF) (in Spanish). Mundo Deportivo. 16 August 1998. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "Okunowo, al sol de las Maldivas" [Okunowo, in the sun of the Maldives] (in Spanish). Sport. 7 April 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2017. 
  3. ^ "Former Barcelona defender Gbenga Okunowo: I want to retire in Nigeria". 13 February 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2017. 
  4. ^ "The story of Samuel Okunowo: From Barcelona prodigy to Waltham Forest". These Football Times. 8 September 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017. 
  5. ^ Lewis blisko Odry, Everson czeka, Bruno Basto już nie (Lewis near Odry, Everson waiting, Bruno Basto no longer); Futbol, 5 February 2010 (in Polish)
  6. ^ 2009: Spilte på Maldivene og nivå åtte i England / 2010: Fikk prøvespille i norsk eliteserie (2009: Played in the Maldives and level eight in England / 2010: Got a trial in the Norwegian league); Verdens Gang, 19 June 2011 (in Norwegian)
  7. ^ Ex-Barca ace Okunowo joins Sunshine; MTN Football, 5 January 2012
  8. ^ Samuel OkunowoFIFA competition record
  9. ^ "Okunowo pierde todo su patrimonio en un incendio" [Okunowo loses entire estate in fire] (in Spanish). Diario AS. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Okunowo pide ayuda al Barça para volver a España y seguir jugando al fútbol" [Okunowo asks for Barça's help to return to Spain and continue to play football] (in Spanish). 20 minutos. 17 November 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "Okunowo reconoce que el Barça le ha ayudado" [Okunowo acknowledges Barça help] (in Spanish). Mundo Deportivo. 3 December 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 

External links[edit]