Aiyegbeni happy with first season

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport, Lagos
Yakubu Aiyegbeni with Guangzhou R&F vice-chairman Lu Yi
Yakubu Aiyegbeni with Guangzhou R&F vice-chairman Lu Yi

Nigeria striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni has hailed his first season in China as a success.

Aiyegbeni, 29, joined Super League side Guangzhou R&F in June and scored nine goals in 14 appearances.

The Nigerian's contribution helped Guangzhou R&F finish seventh in the 16-team league which ended a couple of weeks ago.

"I've only been there six months but it's more like a year," Aiyegbeni told BBC Sport.

"People are quick to disrespect the Chinese league but when you get involved you'll find out the football is really good.

"You can't compare with England but the Chinese players love to pass the ball around and things are getting better there."

With spells at Everton, Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers under his belt, the move to China saw him become the latest in a recent influx of talent in the most populous nation on earth.

Chelsea legend Didier Drogba is also signed up to the Chinese cause.

But after a decade playing in England's top flight, Aiyegbeni said he does miss English football.

"Of course, I'm going to miss England; I lived there for more than ten years.

"Leaving was a little bit difficult but I think I made the right decision.

"I still watch the Premier League games on television, so it's not like I'm crying to go back to English football.

"I had the best time of my life there but it was time to move on in another direction."

Aiyegbeni bristles at the suggestion that he was attracted to Chinese football by money.

"I played in England for more than 10-years and had nothing to prove to anyone.

"If people say I went to China to make money, then it's up to them.

"I love playing football and I think the time was right to move to a different place.

"For me the chance to help develop the league is a great honour.

"Hopefully, I can win something with the club next season."