With the African Cup of Nations kicking off this week, NTOF will be looking at some of the most interesting African players to grace Scottish football. Next up is Aberdeen’s Nigerian nuisance Sone Aluko.
Having made just one senior appearance at Birmingham City, graduating through their youth system, the Dons made their move for the unknown forward. Initially signing in August 2007 until January 2008, Aluko got off to a great start in the Granite City.
A delight at the Dons
Aluko made his debut against Panathinaikos in a UEFA Cup group stage defeat. But the Aberdeen fans would shortly see the best of their loanee. He scored his first goal on his first start just a week later, a 2-0 victory over Dundee United at Pittodrie.
A string of impressive performances saw Aluko’s loan be extended until the end of the season. None of which were more impressive than his man of the match display when Aberdeen held German giants Bayern Munich to a 2-2 draw. He scored the Dons’ second goal in the UEFA Cup round of 32 stage clash.
Aluko had gone from not getting game time at Birmingham to scoring in the same match as the World Cup’s all-time leading goalscorer, Miroslav Klose. A phenomenal turnaround which shows the importance of a loan spell, thanks to the Dons.
Aluko was a bargain buy
They made the move permanent for just £50,000. Aluko would see out his contract which ran until July 2011. A month later, Juventus offered the English-born Nigerian a trial before he signed with Rangers.
Since leaving Ibrox, Aluko has gone on to play for Hull City, Fulham and Reading. He currently plays in China, for Beijing Renhe, on loan from the Royals.
However, the biggest frustrations of his career must come from not always being able to represent the Super Eagles. Despite being named in the provisional squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, he failed to make the grade.
He also had to withdraw from the 2013 AFCON squad due to injury, with Nigeria going on to win the tournament. You have to feel sorry for Aluko. On his day, he was electric and the kind of talent Scottish football can help develop.