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Odion Ighalo

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Odion Ighalo
Odion Ighalo (cropped).jpg
Ighalo playing for Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup
Personal information
Full name Odion Jude Ighalo[1]
Date of birth (1989-06-16) 16 June 1989 (age 31)[2]
Place of birth Lagos, Nigeria
Height 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)[3]
Playing position(s) Striker
Club information
Current team
Manchester United
(on loan from Shanghai Greenland Shenhua)
Number 25
Youth career
2000–2005 Prime
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2005 Prime 5 (0)
2006 Julius Berger 10 (5)
2007–2008 Lyn 20 (9)
2008–2014 Udinese 6 (1)
2009–2010Granada (loan) 26 (16)
2010–2011Cesena (loan) 3 (0)
2011–2014Granada (loan) 95 (16)
2014Watford (loan) 8 (3)
2014–2017 Watford 82 (33)
2017–2018 Changchun Yatai 55 (36)
2019– Shanghai Greenland Shenhua 17 (10)
2020–Manchester United (loan) 12 (0)
National team
2009 Nigeria U20 3 (0)
2015–2019 Nigeria 35 (16)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 18:28, 19 September 2020 (UTC)

Odion Jude Ighalo (born 16 June 1989) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a striker for English Premier League club Manchester United, on loan from Shanghai Greenland Shenhua of the Chinese Super League.

After starting his career at Nigerian clubs Prime and Julius Berger, Ighalo moved to Norwegian club Lyn in 2007. A year later, he was signed by Italian club Udinese, spending most of his tenure on two separate loan spells with Spanish club Granada. In 2014, he signed for Championship club Watford and was integral in the club's promotion to the Premier League in the 2014–15 season. In January 2017, Ighalo joined Chinese Super League club Changchun Yatai for a reported £20 million, before moving onto Shanghai Greenland Shenhua. In January 2020, Ighalo returned to the Premier League, joining Manchester United on loan until the end of the 2019–20 season.

Ighalo made his debut for the Nigeria national team in March 2015 against Uganda. He represented the nation at the 2018 World Cup and was the highest goalscorer in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign. He eventually led Nigeria to a third place finish at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, where he finished in the competition's Team of the Tournament and was crowned top scorer.[4]

Club career

Early career

Born in Lagos[5] and raised in Edo,[6] Ighalo played in his country with Prime and Julius Berger, where he was discovered by FIFA agent Marcelo Houseman who recommended him to Atta Aneke, being subsequently taken on trial by Norway's Lyn.[citation needed]

He made his Tippeligaen debut on 16 September 2007 at the age of just 18, scoring in a 2–0 home win against Viking. He scored six goals in 13 matches in his second year to help his team to the seventh position, and subsequently arose interest from other clubs in the country, with Brann reporting Lyn to the Norwegian Football Federation for unfairness in the negotiation process.[7]

Udinese and Granada

On 30 July 2008, Ighalo signed for Udinese in Italy, moving alongside teammate Jo Inge Berget and agreeing to a five-year contract.[8] He appeared rarely in Serie A in his debut season, scoring against Cagliari in a 6–2 home routing.[9] Four of his five league appearances came as a late substitute.[10]

Ighalo was loaned to Granada in summer 2009, as part of the partnership agreement between Udinese and the Spaniards.[11][12][13] He scored 17 times in his first year (playoffs included)[14] and five in the second, as both seasons ended in promotion;[15][16] this was interspersed with a brief loan stint back in Italy, with Cesena.[17]

Ighalo continued playing with Granada in the following years, still owned by the Udine club.[18][19] He played his first La Liga match on 27 August 2011, starting and playing the full 90 minutes in a 0–1 home loss to Real Betis.[20]

Watford

Ighalo warming up for Watford in 2014

Ighalo joined Watford on a season-long loan deal from Udinese, on 29 July 2014.[21] He made his debut for the English club in the first round of the League Cup away to Stevenage on 12 August,[22] and scored his first goal in the Championship against Brentford on 30 September by tucking the ball home after his initial penalty was saved by David Button, in a 2–1 home win.[23][24]

On 24 October 2014, Watford terminated Ighalo's loan and re-signed him on a permanent deal the same day after Udinese released him from his contract.[25] Exactly three months later, he scored four-second-half goals and was voted Man of the match in a 7–2 home routing of Blackpool, who led 0–2 at half time;[26] he took his league tally to 14 on 10 February 2015, after netting a brace to help his team come from behind at Brentford to win it 2–1 – his second came through an injury time header.[27]

Ighalo scored in his Premier League debut on 8 August 2015, replacing José Manuel Jurado 16 minutes from time and putting the visitors ahead 2–1 in an eventual 2–2 draw away against Everton for the season opener.[28] He netted twice in a 2–0 home win over West Ham United on 31 October, reaching seven goals for the season and becoming the highest club scorer in the competition after just 11 matches.[29]

On 20 December 2015, Ighalo scored in a Watford victory for the fourth consecutive time, netting a brace in a 3–0 win over Liverpool.[30] His five-goal haul earned him December's Premier League Player of the Month, while his manager Quique Sánchez Flores won the equivalent award.[31]

Ighalo broke a 599-minute personal scoring drought on 13 March 2016, with a goal in a 2–1 win at holders Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, putting the Hornets into the last four for the first time in nine years.[32] On 12 August he signed a new five-year contract[33] but, the following season, he scored just one league goal and did not find the net in any of his last 15 games.[34]

Changchun Yatai

On 31 January 2017, Ighalo joined Chinese Super League club Changchun Yatai for a reported £20 million.[34] He ranked second in the scoring charts in his second season at 21, but his team suffered relegation.[35][36]

Shanghai Greenland Shenhua

Ighalo transferred to Shanghai Greenland Shenhua on 14 February 2019.[37][38] In March, he said he turned down a move to Barcelona the previous month.[39]

In March 2020, he was offered a contract extension worth over £400,000 a week by Shenhua.[40]

Manchester United (loan)

On 31 January 2020, Ighalo returned to the Premier League, joining Manchester United on loan until the end of the season.[41][42] In doing so, he became the first Nigerian player, and only the seventh African, to join the club.[43] After the move was confirmed, Ighalo revealed that he had taken a pay cut to make the move happen, calling it a "dream" to join the club he has long supported.[44] He opted to wear the number 25 shirt, previously worn by Manchester United's first and longest-serving African player, Quinton Fortune of South Africa.[45]

His presence within the first team was initially blocked as a precautionary measure due to ongoing fears over the COVID-19 outbreak in China.[46][47] After three substitute appearances, Ighalo made his full debut for United in their Europa League round of 32 second leg match against Club Brugge on 27 February 2020. He scored his first United goal, which was also his maiden goal in a European competition, as the hosts won 5–0.[48] A week later, he scored his first brace for the club as United beat Derby County 3–0 in the FA Cup.[49] On Manchester United's final game before the suspension of football due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Igahlo scored a half volley after three consecutive keepie uppies in a 5-0 win over LASK which was awarded Manchester United goal of the month for March.[50]

With football suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Ighalo's loan set to expire at the end of May 2020, on 1 June Manchester United announced that they had agreed to extend Ighalo's loan deal until 30 January 2021.[51]

International career

On 24 March 2015, after a series of strong performances for Watford, newly appointed Nigeria interim coach Daniel Amokachi selected Ighalo for the first time, and the latter stated, "I feel good because it is my dream to play for my country".[52] He won his first cap two days later, starting in a 0–1 friendly home loss to Uganda.[53]

Ighalo was initially named as one of three overage players in Nigeria's squad for the 2016 Olympic tournament, but he eventually did not make the trip to Brazil.[54] In June 2018, he was named in the 23-man squad for the upcoming edition of the FIFA World Cup in Russia,[55] making his first appearance in the competition by playing 73 minutes in the 0–2 group stage defeat against Croatia;[56] in October, he revealed that his family had received death threats after he failed to score in the tournament.[57]

Ighalo scored seven goals in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign, the most by any player, to help Nigeria qualify for the finals in Egypt later that year.[58] He was included in Gernot Rohr's squad,[59] taking part in all the matches and finding the net against Burundi in the group phase (1–0),[60] Cameroon in the round of 16 (3–2 win),[61] Algeria in the semi-finals (1–2 loss)[62] and Tunisia in the third-place playoff (1–0);[63] at the end of the competition, he announced his retirement from the international scene.[64]

Personal life

Ighalo is a devout Christian,[65] who also often dedicates part of his wages for Nigerian charitable organisations to help impoverished children, schools and widows below the poverty line.[66] He is a lifelong Manchester United supporter.[67]

Career statistics

Club

As of match played 30 September 2020
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National Cup League Cup Continental Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Prime 2005[68] Nigeria National League 5 0 0 0 5 0
Julius Berger 2006[68] Nigeria Premier League 10 5 0 0 10 5
Lyn 2007[68] Tippeligaen 7 3 0 0 7 3
2008[68] Tippeligaen 13 6 0 0 13 6
Total 20 9 0 0 20 9
Udinese 2008–09[68] Serie A 6 1 0 0 6 1
Granada (loan) 2009–10[68] Segunda División B 26 16 0 0 26 16
Cesena (loan) 2010–11[69] Serie A 3 0 1 0 4 0
Granada (loan) 2010–11[69] Segunda División 21 4 0 0 4[a] 1 25 5
2011–12[69] La Liga 30 6 1 0 31 6
2012–13[69] La Liga 28 4 2 1 30 5
2013–14[69] La Liga 16 2 2 2 18 4
Total 95 16 5 3 4 1 104 20
Watford 2014–15[69] Championship 35 20 1 0 2 0 38 20
2015–16[69] Premier League 37 15 5 2 0 0 42 17
2016–17[69] Premier League 18 1 0 0 1 1 19 2
Total 90 36 6 2 3 1 99 39
Changchun Yatai 2017[69] Chinese Super League 27 15 0 0 27 15
2018[69] Chinese Super League 28 21 0 0 28 21
Total 55 36 0 0 55 36
Shanghai Shenhua 2019[69] Chinese Super League 17 10 2 0 19 10
2020[69] Chinese Super League 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 17 10 2 0 19 10
Manchester United (loan) 2019–20[70] Premier League 11 0 3 3 5[b] 2 19 5
2020–21[71] Premier League 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 3 0
Total 12 0 3 3 2 0 5 2 22 5
Career total 339 129 17 8 5 1 5 2 4 1 370 141
  1. ^ Appearances in Segunda División play-offs
  2. ^ Appearance(s) in UEFA Europa League

International

Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
Nigeria[68] 2015 7 2
2016 5 1
2017 3 1
2018 10 6
2019 10 6
Total 35 16
Nigeria score listed first, score column indicates score after each Ighalo goal.[68]
International goals by date, venue, cap, opponent, score, result and competition
No. Date Venue Cap Opponent Score Result Competition
1 13 June 2015 Ahmadu Bello, Kaduna, Nigeria 3  Chad 2–0 2–0 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualification
2 11 October 2015 Edmond Machtens, Brussels, Belgium 5  Cameroon 3–0 3–0 Friendly
3 31 May 2016 Josy Barthel, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 11  Luxembourg 3–1 3–1
4 1 September 2017 Godswill Akpabio, Uyo, Nigeria 13  Cameroon 1–0 4–0 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification
5 8 September 2018 Stade Linité, Victoria, Seychelles 23  Seychelles 3–0 3–0 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification
6 13 October 2018 Ahmadu Bello, Kaduna, Nigeria 24  Libya 1–0 4–0
7 2–0
8 3–0
9 16 October 2018 Taïeb Mhiri, Sfax, Tunisia 25 1–0 3–2
10 3–2
11 22 March 2019 Stephen Keshi, Asaba, Nigeria 26  Seychelles 1–0 3–1
12 22 June 2019 Alexandria Stadium, Alexandria, Egypt 29  Burundi 1–0 1–0 2019 Africa Cup of Nations group stage
13 6 July 2019 32  Cameroon 1–0 3–2 2019 Africa Cup of Nations knockout stage
14 2–2
15 14 July 2019 International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt 34  Algeria 1–1 1–2
16 17 July 2019 Al Salam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt 35  Tunisia 1–0 1–0

Honours

Watford

Shanghai Shenhua

Nigeria

Individual

References

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External links