Real Madrid is arguably the biggest club in the world, and in Europe, it’s easily the most decorated club on the domestic, continental, and international levels. And when they decided a couple years ago to finally start a women’s team, one of its players made history in more ways than one. Her name is Chiomba Grace Ubogagu.
Born in London to Nigerian parents, she was given the name Chioma, which means “Good God” in the Igbo language. Ubogagu moved with her mom and older brother to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex at age 3 when her parents split up. Her grandfather, Austin Eneuke, played for Nigeria as well as Tottenham Hotspur. Despite the family ties to Spurs, she grew up an Arsenal FC fan watching the North London Derby.
Growing up in Texas, she became one of the best players in the nation. She led Coppell High School to the state title in 2009 and was named 2010 Gatorade Texas Player of the Year. She also was named an ESPN RISE All-American 3 years in a row, with the NSCAA and Parade listing her as an All-American twice each. She was heavily recruited as the #3 prospect in the nation, and ultimately decided to play for the Stanford Cardinal.
Chi got off to a great start at Stanford, winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2011 and helping the Cardinal win the national championship. She made the all-tournament team in the process. She helped her team back to the national final in 2012 and the Final Four in 2014, making the All-Pac 12 team each of her 4 years. She finished her career at Stanford with 27 goals in 89 appearances.
Ubogagu was able to represent Nigeria, England, or the United States in international competition. She grew up representing the USA at the youth level, competing for their U-18, U-20, and U-23 teams. She still kept her options open as to who she would represent at the senior international level.
Ubogagu was taken by Sky Blue FC (now NJ/NY Gotham FC) with the 28th pick in the 2015 NWSL Draft, but she never signed with the team. She decided to follow her dream and sign with her favorite club, Arsenal FC. She joined the team, scoring in her debut for the team and scoring 7 goals in 21 games across all competitions. Despite her scoring rate, Arsenal released her at the end of the season, and she came to the NWSL to play for the Houston Dash for a year and the Orlando Pride for 3.
During her time with the Pride, she got a call-up to the USWNT for friendlies in 2017. However, she did not dress for either match and did not receive her debut cap. She ultimately decided to represent England, making her senior international debut for the team in November 2018 and scoring a goal in the 3-0 win.
In August 2019, Chi had an opportunity to move to Spain, and she agreed to move to CD Tacón. This is where she was on the verge of history. Just months earlier, CD Tacón had been absorbed by Real Madrid, and the team was set to eventually be renamed Real Madrid Femenino. It was Real Madrid’s first women’s team, and the 2019-20 season was set to be a transition year for the club. Ubogagu scored 5 goals and added 3 assists in 18 appearances that season.
On July 1, 2020, CD Tacón officially became Real Madrid Femenino, and Chiomba Ubogagu, when she stepped foot onto the field against Valencia on October 11, 2020, she became the first American man or woman to play for arguably the biggest and greatest club in the world.
Ubogagu appeared 12 times for Real Madrid Femenino in their first season, scoring two goals. In a world where American players are still trying to break through at big European clubs on the men’s side, Ubogagu had broken a barrier on the women’s side. And it was one that for 118 years couldn’t be broken because they didn’t have a team. To be a member of Real Madrid
Chi Ubogagu left Real Madrid after the 2020-21 season, opting to sign a two year contract with Tottenham Hotspur. The Arsenal fan had returned to her family’s roots on the other side of the derby. However, she will forever be linked to Real Madrid as the first and lone American to put on the white jersey that has seen so much success over the last 120 years.
For more Black History Month stories, check out our Black History Month hub. We will be bringing stories throughout the month to highlight some of the biggest moments in Black American and world soccer history.