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Active NFL players with UK roots: Six players who are living the American dream

S30AK7 Jags v Texans NFL London 2019

The NFL is a sport that is mainly associated with America, but in recent years its popularity has grown globally especially in the UK.

With growing interest in the sport, including annual London games and Sky Sports unrivalled coverage, it looks like more and more British players will start appearing in the NFL.

Even more so with the international players pathway program, which sees players from around Europe and the rest of the world assigned to certain teams each year.

Some former players with British links that played in the NFL include Jay Ajayi, Christian Wade, Osi Umenyiora and Jack Crawford, but which six active NFL players have roots originating from the UK?

Julian Okwara

Okwara was born in London before moving to Lagos, Nigeria and then North Carolina. The six-foot-four outside line-backer played college football at Notre Dame before being drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2020.

Since entering the NFL Okwara has 46 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, seven sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble, fumble recovery and interception.

Efe Obada

Obada moved to London, aged 10 when he and his sister were trafficked into the country, he played for the London Warriors before being on the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, and Atlanta Falcons practice squads before joining the Carolina Panthers through the NFL’s international pathway program.

Obada has played for the Panthers, Buffalo Bills and Washington Commanders racking up 86 tackles, 15 sacks, six pass deflections, two fumble recoveries and one interception and forced fumble.

David Ojabo

Ojabo moved to Scotland at the age of seven before moving to New Jersey 10 years later. The Nigerian-born outside line-backer played college football at Michigan before being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2022.

Ojabo suffered an Achilles injury prior to the 2022 season starting and only played one game in the final week of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals. Ojabo had one tackle, sack, and fumble recovery during the game.

Graham Gano

Gano was born in Arbroath, Scotland but would soon return to the states where his father was a Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. The placekicker went to college at Florida State before signing for the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2009.

Gano had a short spell at the Las Vegas Locomotives before returning to the NFL with the Washington Redskins, he then went on to spend seven years at the Panthers before signing for the New York Giants.

During his time in the NFL Gano has made 313 field goals, with an accuracy of 84.6% with his longest field goal being 63 yards. Gano has also been selected to two pro bowls.

Jamie Gillan

Gillan, like Gano was born in Arbroath, Scotland. Whilst growing up in Scotland Gillan played Rugby before moving to Maryland at the age of 16. Gillan played his college football at Arkansas-Pine Bluff before signing for the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2019.

Gillan played for the Browns for two years before joining the Bills practice squad and then the Giants active roster. The Scottish-born punter has punted 230 times during his time in the NFL, accumulating over 10,000 punt yards, with 83 landing inside the 20-yard line.

Jermaine Eluemunor

Eluemunor was born in London, England, He played rugby and cricket whilst growing up but became invested in American football after watching a game between the Miami Dolphins and the Giants. The offensive lineman moved to New Jersey at the age of 14.

Eluemunor played college football at Texas A and M, before being drafted by the Ravens in 2017. He has since played for the New England Patriots and the Las Vegas Raiders racking up 70 games, with 31 starts.