36 Views

The Rise of Nigerian Striker, Odion Ighalo from Ajegunle Ghetto to the English Premier League

Nigerian striker, Odion Ighalo is currently making waves in the English Premier league with an impressive record of 12 goals with a recent brace against Liverpool football club.

As a boy, Odion Ighalo and his Olodi Warriors team-mates would hit the deck when they heard gun fire during training, according to Dailymail.

The bullets didn’t know the difference between the young footballers and the drug dealers selling their narcotics on a corner of the pitch, who the police were targeting. Growing up in the Ajegunle ghetto, at the heart of Nigerian city Lagos, life can be like that.

Watford’s in-form striker Ighalo, a devout Christian, thanks God at every opportunity. It is understandable when you consider the miracle of his journey. The pitch where he would train and play matches as a child is called the ‘Maracana’ by locals. The field in the Tolu area of the community is one of the most popular places in Ajegunle.

Taribo West, formerly of Inter and AC Milan, and Emmanuel Amunike, who played for Barcelona, graced it in their days. At the nearby Navy Playground, beside Boundary market, Nwankwo Kanu and Finidi George have been spotted playing in the past.

Ajegunle has become known as the place that turns filth into gold. Many of the streets are littered with garbage, piled so high in some areas it reaches rooftops. Some houses are even built on top of great mounds. But out of its depths have emerged footballers who would go on to make waves in Europe. Ighalo is the latest.

His mother, Martina, worked day and night selling water and soft drinks to save up for his first pair of boots. He chose a pair of adidas Copa Mundials, displaying a touch of class, even back then, which he has carried into the Premier League this season.

His father, Paul, wanted him to go to school and study, so his parents would argue. Ighalo, one of six siblings living with intermittent electricity and poor water, just wanted to play football.

He would kick tin cans or plastic bottles barefoot around the Ajegunle streets. They were not hard to find. The Premier League is hugely popular in Nigeria and he loved watching Dwight Yorke back then and is a Manchester United supporter.

Ighalo sends a chunk of his wages back to family in Nigeria and charities who help kids, schools and widows.

He plans to open up an orphanage there next year. His charitable spending must be considerable: in an age when many players are millionaires by their early 20s, at 26 and having played in La Liga and Serie A he confesses not to be one.

In his teens, he played for Prime and Julius Berger — renamed as Bridge FC — in Nigeria where he was picked up by agent Marcelo Houseman who secured him a move to Lyn in Norway.

There, he was astonished to discover snow for the first time. While some of his fellow countrymen could not tolerate the cold and moved back home, Ighalo was intent on succeeding to keep out of the strife he had left behind.

Then, at 19, he got a big move to Udinese — where Alexis Sanchez was a team-mate — and became part of the Pozzo family. Loans to Pozzo-owned Granada, who he helped to promotion to the Spanish top flight, preceded a loan then permanent transfer to Pozzo-owned Watford.

His goals helped Watford to promotion from the Championship last season — 20 in the league, narrowly behind strike partner Troy Deeney on 21. This season, he has taken over. Deeney has been content playing the foil while Ighalo has scored 12 Premier League goals.

The pair share a friendly relationship. Their children attend the same school and Ighalo, with his proficiency in other languages from his travels, sometimes acts as translator when captain Deeney can’t communicate with one of their players.

But goalscoring has been Ighalo’s primary function. His 28 league strikes in 2015 are greater than anyone in English football’s top four divisions. In the top five European leagues, they put him just behind Cristiano Ronaldo (35), Lionel Messi (33), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (29) and alongside Luis Suarez in joint-fourth.

Despite this, his Watford future was uncertain in the summer. Hebei China Fortune offered £10million for him and big wages, but he turned them down.

It was unsure if he fitted into Quique Sanchez Flores’s plans, but Ighalo did what has been ingrained in him since he was a child, ducking for cover.

He got his head down, kept on believing better was to come and proved his worth.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Latest Posts

Idongesit Umoh: Nigerian Enterpreneur Shares How She Lost N2.1m Through Online Banking
Business
50 views
Business
50 views

Idongesit Umoh: Nigerian Enterpreneur Shares How She Lost N2.1m Through Online Banking

PH - October 22, 2017

Nigerian entrepreneur and YALI fellow Idongesit Umoh today shared details of how her bank account got debited of N2.1m through some suspicious action on her online banking app. She…

Omawumi, Akpororo Announced As Judges Of New Reality Show
Entertainment
33 views
Entertainment
33 views

Omawumi, Akpororo Announced As Judges Of New Reality Show

PH - October 22, 2017

Last Resort entertainment working in partnership with Global Resources Limited, have announced the launch of Nigerian Icon, a first of its kind in talent scouting and entertainment…

Abia State Announces N10m Grant For Film Production In The State
Entertainment
21 views
Entertainment
21 views

Abia State Announces N10m Grant For Film Production In The State

PH - October 22, 2017

Abia State government has expressed its enthusiasm for the ZUMA Film Festival that is set to take place between the 1st to 5th of December, 2017 in…

Buhari Holds Bilateral Meetings With Guinea President, Pakistan Minister
Politics
30 views
Politics
30 views

Buhari Holds Bilateral Meetings With Guinea President, Pakistan Minister

PH - October 22, 2017

President Muhammadu Buhari held bilateral meetings with President Alpha Conde of Guinea and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of Pakistan in Turkey on Saturday. See photos:

37 Job Opportunities Open For Nigerians In UN
Politics
21 views
Politics
21 views

37 Job Opportunities Open For Nigerians In UN

PH - October 22, 2017

UN deputy secretary-general, Amina Mohammed has said that there are 37 career openings for young Nigerians under the United Nations bureaucracy. Amina disclosed this at a Cultural…

How Kachikwu Led Global Outreach To Boost Nigeria’s Oil Revenues
Business
43 views
Business
43 views

How Kachikwu Led Global Outreach To Boost Nigeria’s Oil Revenues

PH - October 22, 2017

The extra resources derived from the OPEC production concessions which Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources has been fighting for are boosting the…

Photos from Davido’s Friend, Tagbo Umeike’s Burial in Anambra State
Entertainment
55 views
Entertainment
55 views

Photos from Davido’s Friend, Tagbo Umeike’s Burial in Anambra State

PH - October 22, 2017

Davido's friend, Tagbo Umeike who died from suffocation and alcohol poisoning on the eve of his birthday at Shisha Lounge in Lekki, Lagos on October 2, has…

5 Quick And Stunning Facts About The Nigerian That Painted Obama’s Portrait
Best of Nigeria
56 views
Best of Nigeria
56 views

5 Quick And Stunning Facts About The Nigerian That Painted Obama’s Portrait

Mabel - October 21, 2017

The skilled craftsman who is a New York-based representation painter, known for his exceedingly naturalistic depictions of dark individuals in chivalrous postures, will be the main dark…

Eat These Common Foods And Lessen Your Risk Of Colon Cancer
Food and Health
70 views
Food and Health
70 views

Eat These Common Foods And Lessen Your Risk Of Colon Cancer

Mabel - October 21, 2017

You know entire grains are useful for your heart, yet they may have another advantage, as well, as indicated by a new report from the World Cancer Research…

SEE This Nollywood Director’s ‘Birthday Cake’ Everyone Is Talking About – [One Of A Kind]
Entertainment
61 views
Entertainment
61 views

SEE This Nollywood Director’s ‘Birthday Cake’ Everyone Is Talking About – [One Of A Kind]

MT - October 21, 2017

  Nollywood director, Ugezu J. Ugezu who is currently on set with his crew for the making of the movie ‘THRONE OF REVENGE’, celebrated his birthday with…

5 Drugs That Get Nigerians High Far More Than Marijuana
Food and Health
57 views
Food and Health
57 views

5 Drugs That Get Nigerians High Far More Than Marijuana

Mabel - October 21, 2017

  The codeine culture is getting more intensed in north and in urban ranges of Southern Nigeria. It is the most loved medication of decision for some…

Exquisite First Photos From Ex Governor, Mimiko’s Daughter’ Traditional Wedding In Akure
Politics
63 views
Politics
63 views

Exquisite First Photos From Ex Governor, Mimiko’s Daughter’ Traditional Wedding In Akure

MT - October 21, 2017

On Thursday 19th October, 2017, Ondo State’s former Governor Mimiko’s daughter, Bibitayo tied the knot with his sweet heart, Adetola Aderemi in the State’s capital, Akure. Dignitaries…

How Actor Mofe Duncan’s Sister Was Chased To The Point Of Death By FRSC Officials – Friend
Entertainment
41 views
Entertainment
41 views

How Actor Mofe Duncan’s Sister Was Chased To The Point Of Death By FRSC Officials – Friend

MT - October 21, 2017

  Nollywood actor, Mofe Duncan took to Instagram moments ago to narrate how his sister Matilda sustained injuries in an auto accident in Abuja. The accident, according…

Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari Relaxes On A Yacht With Wives Of Other Leaders In Turkey (Photos)
Politics
61 views
Politics
61 views

Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari Relaxes On A Yacht With Wives Of Other Leaders In Turkey (Photos)

MT - October 21, 2017

Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari was seen with wives of other world leaders relaxing on a yacht in Instanbul while being hosted by the First Lady…

Quick Reminder Facts About ‘Legendary DaGrin’ As Fans Celebrate His 30th Posthumous Birthday
Buzz & Trends
42 views
Buzz & Trends
42 views

Quick Reminder Facts About ‘Legendary DaGrin’ As Fans Celebrate His 30th Posthumous Birthday

Mabel - October 21, 2017

Oladapo Olaitan Olaonipekun, also known as Dagrin (21 October 1987 – 22 April 2010), was an award-winning Nigerian rapper from Ogun, Nigeria. A film of his life…

Atiku’s Ex Daughter-in-law, Miss Ummi Reveals What Led To The Custody Battle With Ex Hubby Aminu
Politics
50 views
Politics
50 views

Atiku’s Ex Daughter-in-law, Miss Ummi Reveals What Led To The Custody Battle With Ex Hubby Aminu

MT - October 21, 2017

In an interview with Punch, Miss Ummi Bukar Bolori, ex wife of Aminu, one of the sons of the former vice president of Nigeria, Abubakar Atiku, reveals…

Kebbi State’s Accountant-General, Mohammed Dakingari, Sentenced To 70yrs Jail Term For This Reason.
Politics
51 views
Politics
51 views

Kebbi State’s Accountant-General, Mohammed Dakingari, Sentenced To 70yrs Jail Term For This Reason.

MT - October 21, 2017

The Court of Appeal Kebbi Division has upturned the judgment of a Kebbi State High Court which discharged and acquitted Mohammed Arzika Dakingari, Accountant General of Kebbi…

This Is What Governor Amosun Is Saying About The Stories Making Round That A Youth Corper Gave Birth To Twins For Him
Politics
83 views
Politics
83 views

This Is What Governor Amosun Is Saying About The Stories Making Round That A Youth Corper Gave Birth To Twins For Him

MT - October 21, 2017

Mr Ibikunle Amosun, the governor of Ogun State, on Friday morning broke his silence on what he considered as the avalanches of rumours and falsehood being peddled…

Loading...