In a short career time, Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho has become an international soccer sensation.
Kelechi Promise Iheanacho is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays for Manchester City and the Nigerian Super Eagles. He is from Imo State, Southeastern region of Nigeria.
Born on October 3, 1996, Kelechi started playing football in his early years in his hometown in Owerri, the state capital.
He started playing for his home country as a minor, representing Nigeria at the U-13 youth level.
In time he graduated to playing for the Golden Eaglets, the Nigerian under-17 national team.
During the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup Kelechi impressed a couple of international clubs such as Arsenal, Sporting Clube de Portugal and Porto. The tournament would be his first international experience.
According to the player, his best moment was the hat-trick in a win against Botswana. Kelechi dedicated his goals to his mother, who passed away a couple of months before the competition.
As young as he was, his skill in the pitch was a talent that could not go by unnoticed.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) named him the Most Promising Talent of the Year for 2013 at the CAF Awards. He also won the Golden Ball award for Player of the tournament.
Soon Kelechi who began his humble football career with a local football team, Taye Academy in Imo State moved on to join the Manchester under-17 team.
Iheanacho joined Manchester City’s Academy on 10 January 2014. He played at the under-19 level in a UEFA Youth League match against Schalke 04. While with them in 2014-15 season he also played on loan for Columbus Crew.
Impressed by the former coach, Manuel Pellegrini, the young star was enlisted to become part of the the first team in the Premier League season.
“He’s given me the chance to prove myself. I wasn’t expecting that. I was working with the EDS. He said I was going with them to Australia in pre-season and after that we came back and I was in the first team.”
While on tour, he showcased himself as a prolific goal scorer. Kelechi then became an asset for the club playing for both youth and under-21 level.
In 2015, the vibrant star made his debut in Manchester senior club.
For the 2015–16 season, Iheanacho became Manchester City’s 3rd-highest goal scorer with 8 Premier League goals. Wikipedia records that “he had the best goals-per-minute ratio of any player averaging, a goal every 93.9 minutes”.
Summarily he made 35 appearances through out the competition with a record of 14 goals and 5 assists.
Last year, Kelechi Iheanacho pulled weight in the European League. On the basis of minutes-to-goal ratio, Kelechi surpassed legendary soccer stars like Madrid’s Cristiano Ronado and Barcelona’s Luis Suarez. Kelechi topped the list with 11 goals at 81.27.
On the national level, the Man City forward was also part of the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. The star who is also a Nigerian striker did not make it to 2016 Rio Olympics. He imperatively had to be at the pre-season training.
“I don’t know if my team and my country have decided.”
“If your country wants you to play for them you surely have to do so, but it’s not up for me to decide. I don’t know if it has been concluded or not.”
Currently playing for the Premier League club Manchester City, the talented star is reportedly about to make a £25 million move to Leicester club.
Unlike his privileged 2014-15 Premier League season under Pellegrini, soccer observers are certain that Iheanacho may not have same with the new coach.
With Gabrial Jesus for the first team and Pep Guardiola transfer moves for Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Iheanacho’s opportunities are seemingly limited.
This arrangement has signaled that the Nigerian forward will be free during the tournament.
Consequently, clubs like Everton, Leicester City and West Ham are indicating their interest in having the star over on transfer.
Leicester is out to beef up the team with seasoned players. Already, the club made a £17 million transfer deal for Hull City’s Harry Maguire. Kelechi Iheanacho is next on the list.
According to WhoScored.com, Kelechi Iheanacho has the best on-target conversion rate of 63.2%. He tops the list of 59 players to score 10+ PL goals since August 2015.