Odion Ighalo becomes the 7th African to sign for Man Utd - what happened to the other six?

Manchester United caused a shock on transfer deadline day when they signed Odion Ighalo from Shanghai Shenhua.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was looking to bolster his attacking options and eventually settled on the Nigerian striker.

The Man United boss expressed his happiness about the signing.

“In Odion we get a proper man, a great lad, a good goalscorer,” he said, per the Metro.

“It’s not long ago he was top scorer in the African Nations Cup. He gives us a different option up front, so I’m delighted that he wanted to come for a few months.

“For us it’s great to have him around. And I know he’s such a Man United fan and he will give absolutely everything on and off the pitch.”

Ighalo will most likely make his debut later this month and will become the seventh African to play for the club. But what happened to the other six?

Quinton Fortune 

Fortune became the first African to play for United when he joined the club from Atletico Madrid in 1999.

He went on to scored 11 goals in 127 games before departing for Bolton Wanderers in 2006.

The South African didn’t have much success after leaving the Red Devils, though.

He lasted just a year at Bolton before having unsuccessful spells at Brescia and Tubize.

Fortune then retired in 2010 after being released by then Championship side, Doncaster Rovers.

Eric Djemba-Djemba 

Djemba-Djemba was signed by United in 2003 as a potential successor to Roy Keane.

But he would make just 39 appearances for the club before leaving for Aston Villa in 2005.

The Cameroonian would then become a bit of a journeyman, playing for the likes of OB, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Partizan and St Mirren.

Now 38, Djemba-Djemba currently plays for FC Vallorbe-Ballaigues in Switzerland’s fifth tier.


Manucho was a very strange signing by Man United.

In 2008, Manucho signed for United as a 23-year-old after smashing in the goals for Angolan side Atlético Petróleos de Luanda.

But he would fail to score in three appearances for the Red Devils before departing a year after signing.

Manucho went on to spend the majority of the remainder of his career in Spain playing for Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano.

He retired last year after a spell in the Spanish third tier with UE Cornellà.

Mame Biram Diouf

After a prolific spell in Norway with Molde, United decided to sign Diouf in 2009.

He would score just one goal in nine games for the club before departing three years after signing.

The Senegalese striker would go on to have a successful three-year spell in the Bundesliga with Hannover, where he scored 35 times in 71 games.

That convinced Stoke City to sign him in 2014. After a promising first season, Diouf has declined ever since.

He’s still playing for the Championship club but has scored just one goal in the past two seasons.

Wilfried Zaha

Zaha is easily the best player on this list. He didn’t have the greatest of times at United, though.

The Ivorian winger was signed in 2013 but he would appear just four times for the club.

He was sold back to Crystal Palace in 2015 and he has thrived ever since.

Zaha is easily The Eagles’ best player and he looks set to move to a big club in the near future.

Eric Bailly

Bailly was signed for £30 million from Villarreal in 2016.

After a promising start, Bailly’s United career has been derailed by injuries.

He is currently behind Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire in the pecking order and could be deemed surplus to requirements by Solskjaer in the summer.

It’s fair to say that the six previous Africans to play for Man United didn’t fare too well at the club.

Fortune perhaps enjoyed the best success. Although he was a rotational player under Sir Alex Ferguson, he still lasted seven years at the club and helped them to three titles.

But Diouf, Djemba-Djemba and Mauncho were all failures. Zaha has since gone on to become a very good player, but he too flattered to deceive at United.

Ighalo is only on loan until the end of the season. But all he’ll have to is score a few goals to be considered more of a success than most of the Africans to feature for United before him.

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