Kelechi Iheanacho, born in Imo state Nigeria but rise to put Nigeria in the record book of Manchester City as one of the players that help them lift their first-ever Emirate Cup. Before the young Nigerian became who he is today and all the accolades, he has made some input in the record book of football for both club and country, which are the things we will be talking about today.
Kelechi Iheanacho started his football career in Owerri in Imo state, his birthplace with Taye Academy. His performances in the Academy drew the eyes of so many sports lovers and agent as he was picked to represent Nigeria in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World.
The player did well in the tournament attracting interest from the likes of Arsenal, Sporting CP, Manchester City and Portuguese top side F.C Porto. In December 2012, the young Nigerian travelled to England to discuss a move to Manchester City, which was successful.
Kelechi Iheanacho signed a pre-contract agreement with the club, stating his intent to formally sign for Man City on his 18th birthday in October 2014. Due to his performance in the U-17 FIFA World Cup, Nigeria won, he was named the Most Promising Talent of the Year for 2013 at the CAF Awards in 2014. Iheanacho officially joined Manchester City Academy on the 10th of January 2015. Before the 2014-15 season, he travelled with City to the United States on a pre-season tour.
Kelechi Iheanacho scored on his debut in the 4-1 win over Sporting Kansas City, and he also scored in their 5-1 win over top Italian side AC Milan. Delays in obtaining a work permit meant Iheanacho was unable to play in England until February 2015. He made his debut at the under-19 level in a UEFA Youth League match against Schalk 04.
He picked up an injury just 11 minutes into the game. When he recovered, he started playing for both the Academy and the U-21 team. He played his first F.A. Cup game against Chelsea, which ended 5-2 in favour of Chelsea. However, he scored in the game. The following week, he cut to help City beat Porto 1-0 in the final of the 2014-15 Premier League International Cup.
Kelechi Iheanacho became a Manchester City player proper in the 2015-16 season. He included in their team list, and he ended the 2015–16 season with eight Premier League goals and had the best goals-per-minute ratio of any player. He averaged a goal every 93.9 minutes. In all competitions, he finished with a record of 14 goals and five assists from 35 appearances. He made only 11 starts but was able to make such an impact. He ended the season as Manchester City’s third-highest scorer.
He scored in his first Manchester derby and provided an assist, as well as the game ended 2-1 in favour of his team. Four days later, he came from the bench to score his Champions League goal in City’s 4–0 home win in the Champions League against Borussia Monchengladbach. He scored ten goals which allowed him to join the list of players who have scored ten or more goals at the age of 20 in the English Premier League a list which includes players like Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Nicolas Anelka, Michael Owen and Lukaku, making him the first African to hit the record.
In October 2016, Iheanacho was nominated for the FIFA but lost it to Bayern Munich and Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches. He also scored in their Champions League 1-1 with Celtic. Iheanacho’s last goal for Manchester City was against Huddersfield in a 5–1 in F.A. Cup fifth round return leg.
Kelechi Iheanacho in Leicester City
In 2017 the Nigerian joined Leicester City on a five-year contract for £25 million. He made his debut for the club in a 4–3 defeat to Arsenal. His first goal for Leicester City came in a Carabao Cup game against Leeds United. Iheanacho was the first player in English football to be awarded a goal due to the Video Assistant Referee VAR.
The goal was Iheanacho’s second in a 2–0 win over Fleetwood Town in the F.A. Cup Third Round replay. Iheanacho wasn’t in the first-choice starting eleven at the start of the 2020-21 season due to injuries. He made only two starts in Leicester’s first 21 Premier League games.
The player picked form again and returned to scoring ways, netting 12 goals in 10 games in all competitions during March and April. Kelechi Iheanacho scored his first Premier League hat-trick in a 5–0 win against Sheffield United. A week later, Iheanacho netted a brace in Leicester’s 3–1 win over Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the F.A. Cup, helping City reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since 1981-82 season.
Kelechi Iheanacho went on to win the Premier League Player of the Month award for the month of March 2021 after scoring five goals in three league appearances. Kelechi Iheanacho scored the only goal in the F.A. Cup semi-final against Southampton, sending Leicester City to the final for the first time since 1969.
He won the F.A. Cup final with Leicester City as they beat Chelsea 1-0 to lift the 2020-21 F.A. Cup trophy, Leicester City’s first-ever F.A. Cup trophy. Iheanacho is the only player in the English Premier to have scored every day of the week. He hit the record their 2-1 loss to Chelsea.
Kelechi Iheanacho’s National Team Contributions
Kelechi Iheanacho has represented Nigeria at youth levels from under-13 upwards. He made his major international appearance at the 2013 African U-17 Championship held in Morocco. He scored a hat-trick in a win against Botswana, which was his highlight in the tournament. He dedicated the goals to his mother, who died two months before the tournament.
He also featured for Nigeria in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup. He was very instrumental in the tournament. Nigeria won the competition, and he won the Golden Ball award for the player of the tournament. Kelechi Iheanacho scored goals in the competition and gave seven assists. He was part of the Super Eagles squad for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. Iheanacho made his senior debut as a substitute in a 0-0 draw.
His first start for the senior team was on the 25th of March 2016, in the game, which ended 1-1 with Egypt. He scored in the two games, providing an assist for Nigeria in the game against Luxembourg. His performance in the friendly matches inspired further confidence within football circles in the nation, and he was invited to make his competitive debut against Egypt in an African Cup of Nations qualifying match.
He did not score in the game, but he provided an assist in the game. The Nigerian has been doing well for both country and club, representing Nigeria very well on his club side. Millions of Nigerians have congratulated and celebrated him following his patriotic display in their 1-0 win in F.A. Cup. He and Wilfred Ndidi were seen holding the Nigerian Flag, which shows they are proud of where they are coming from.