John Chukwudi Utaka (born 8 January 1982 in Enugu) is a Nigerian footballer who currently plays as a striker for Egyptian Second Division side Nogoom El Mostakbal. He is the older brother of Peter Utaka, who plays for Shimizu S-Pulse in Japan. Utaka has played at two World Cups and three Africa Cup of Nations for Nigeria since his debut in 2002.
Utaka has played for several clubs across three continents, first for Arab Contractors and subsequently Ismaily of Egypt, and then spending a season playing for Al-Sadd of Qatar, before joining Racing Lens and later Rennes in France. During his career he has mainly been utilised as a pacy winger making him a very effective element in a team's counter-attacking style of play.
Utaka struggled to make an impact at the start of his Rennes stint. However, he took advantage of the absence of fellow striker Alexander Frei through injury to make his breakthrough. In February 2006, he scored two consecutive hat-tricks, against Lens and Lyon, and as a result received the L'Equipe's player of the month award.
In Egypt, while with Ismaily, Utaka earned cult status with the local fans. They used to chant "Oh Oh Oh Utaka, Oh Oh Oh Utaka" during the matches. He played alongside the likes of Mohammed Barakat, Islam El-Shater, and captain Mohamed Salah Abo Greisha under the guidance of Mohsen Saleh, later appointed coach of Egypt.
He joined Al Sadd in 2001 for a fee of $1,000,000. This was then a record transfer fee in Qatar.
Utaka joined Portsmouth on a four-year deal in July 2007, for a fee of around £7 million. He scored his first goal on 11 August 2007 in a game against newly promoted Derby County. Some sources claim he became the club's record signing.
On 17 May 2008, Portsmouth won the FA Cup with a 1–0 victory over Cardiff City. Utaka provided the cross for the winning goal which was scored by Nwankwo Kanu.
He went on to have a poor 2008–09 season but on 27 June 2009 he confirmed he would be staying at the club for at least another season.
The salary being paid to Utaka become a talking point in light of Portsmouth's financial issues, with news agencies reporting an alleged £80,000 per week salary for Utaka as a reflection of their financial mismanagement. Utaka hit out at these reports, claiming that he earned only a third of that figure.
On 23 January 2010, Utaka scored both goals in Portsmouth's 2–1 win over Sunderland in the FA Cup 4th Round.
On 29 January 2011, Utaka signed for French first division side Montpellier, agreeing a two-and-a-half year deal for an undisclosed fee. Utaka made his debut for the new club on 26 February coming on as a 70th-minute substitute for Olivier Giroud in a 0–0 draw with Sochaux.
Utaka scored his first goal of the new Ligue 1 season, and his first for the club, against Ajaccio on 21 September 2011, and also provided an assist as Montpellier defeated Ajaccio 3–1 in Corsica. On 19 February 2012, Montpellier travelled to the Parc des Princes to face league leaders PSG; Utaka headed in an 81st-minute goal from a Giroud cross but a late tap in from Guillaume Hoarau levelled the game at 2–2 and earned the sides a share of the points. Montpellier played host to Bordeaux six days later and Utaka headed home the only goal of the game in the 80th minute to keep up the pressure on league leaders PSG. On 20 May 2012 in a game marred by stoppages for crowd violence, Utaka scored a brace, his sixth and seventh league goals of the campaign, to secure a 2–1 victory over Auxerre and win the Ligue 1 title for Montpellier over PSG, for the first time in the club's history.
On 1 August 2013, Utaka joined the Turkish club Sivasspor on a two-year contract.
Utaka played for Nigeria until 2014 and was a participant at the 2002 World Cup. He started four of Nigeria's six games in the 2006 African Cup of Nations, in which Nigeria finished in third place. He was also part of the Nigeria squad that participated in the 2010 World Cup.
- Egypt Cup: 1999–2000
- FA Cup: 2008
- Ligue 1: 2011–12
- Egyptian League: Top scorer 1999–2000