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Nigeria’s Sylvester Igboun is first African footballer to depart Russia



Nigeria international Sylvester Igboun has become the first African footballer to leave the Russian Premier League as a result of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The 31-year-old forward has taken advantage of a Fifa rule allowing foreign players to leave the country, and has terminated his contract with FK Nizhny Novgorod.

Igboun, whose deal expires at the end of the season, only joined Nizhny Novgorod last month after leaving Dynamo Moscow by mutual consent.

“Sylvester has cancelled his contract because of the ongoing problem between Russia and Ukraine,” one of Igboun’s advisers told BBC Sport Africa.

“It’s a personal decision taken by the player after speaking at length with his family.”

Igboun only made one league appearance following his move to Nizhny Novgorod.


Last week world governing body Fifa announced that foreign footballers playing in Russia can suspend their contracts and temporarily leave the country.

The move came after Russian football clubs and national teams were suspended from all competitions “until further notice” by Fifa and Uefa.

At home in Russia

The versatile Igboun previously starred for Danish club FC Midtjylland, scoring 47 goals and providing 30 assists before moving to Russian side Ufa in at the end of the 2014-15 campaign.

He scored 27 times in 119 appearances during his five-year stay at Ufa before sealing a permanent move to Dynamo Moscow in August 2020 following a successful loan spell in the capital.

Capped six times by Nigeria, Igboun made his debut for the Super Eagles against Tanzania in their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in September 2015.



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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