ODION IGHALO BECOMES FIRST NIGERIAN PLAYER AT MANCHESTER UNITED

ODION IGHALO BECOMES FIRST NIGERIAN PLAYER AT MANCHESTER UNITED

With Manchester United on its official website confirming the joining on loan by Odion Ighalo, the retired Super Eagles’ striker has become the first Nigerian to feature for the club.

Mikel Obi could have had the honour in 2006 when both Manchester United and Chelsea jostle for his signature, but he opted for Chelsea.

According to Manchester United website, Ighalo had been a lifelong Reds supporter. The top scorer at both the qualifying series as well as the final tournament of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will take his experience as a center-forward to bolster “our squad for the second half of the campaign, as the club competes in the Premier League, UEFA Europa League and Emirates FA Cup.”

Speaking about the loan deal, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “Odion is an experienced player. He will come in and give us an option of a different type of centre-forward for the short spell he’s staying with us.

“A great lad and very professional, he will make the most of his time here.”

Ighalo began his professional career in his native Nigeria with local clubs Prime and Julius Berger, before sealing a transfer to Norwegian side Lyn in 2007. 

A year later, a move to Udinese in Italy eventually led to loan spells with Granada (twice), Cesena and Watford in the Premier League.

While at Vicarage Road with the Hornets, Ighalo impressively scored 40 goals from exactly 100 appearances across all competitions.

During that time he made three appearances against United and one at Old Trafford, losing twice and winning once, while also earning an assist. 

That fruitful spell with Watford convinced Chinese team Changchun Yatai to sign him in 2017 and, two years later, in 2019, the Nigerian linked up with Shanghai Greenland Shenua.

Across all clubs in his career so far, Ighalo has scored 131 goals from 322 appearances.

The forward has also earned 35 caps for Nigeria and scored 16 times, notably finishing as top scorer in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

Speaking in 2016, Ighalo admitted that United would be a dream move for him as a lifelong supporter of the Reds. 

“They were my team growing up,” he was quoted. “I loved watching Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke on TV. They were my idols and playing at Old Trafford has always been a dream.”

Manchester United in its website remarked: “We all look forward to welcoming Ighalo to the Theatre of Dreams.”

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