The United signing that sparked street parties
Manchester United new boy Odion Ighalo has been bowled over by the reaction to his loan move in his homeland of Nigeria.
Fans celebrated the news of the deadline-day deal by holding street parties and it seems there will be a huge patriotic focus on the striker when he pulls on the no.25 shirt for the first time, following the winter break.
It has been a whirlwind time for the African attacker but he admits he is boosted by the support from a country where the Reds have a fanatical following.
When we asked the centre-forward about the reaction in Nigeria, he replied:
“It was crazy, because my move to Man United was all over the news for the last few days.Even in the street I grew up on, they are having parties, celebrating Ighalo signing for United!
“They sent me the video, I was just laughing and happy. Many of the people are supporting Man United and some of them are supporting some other teams in the Premier League, but they said they are changing to United now because of me. This club has a very big fan base in Nigeria. So I am happy about all of this and they are rooting for United from now on.”
So, with some fans even switching their allegiance to back the 30-year-old, he feels immense pride to be making history as the first Nigerian ever to represent the Reds' first team.
“I’m happy, because people keep sending me messages,” he added.
“I know that this is very big, I'm going to be the first Nigerian to play for United, it’s a good record for me in my career.
“I know that after I finish football, I are going to know what we are talking about, because I’m just so emotional right now, so I don’t think about those things too much.
“I just want to get started and get playing and start helping the team to do well.”
United gained a real taste of the club's popularity in Nigeria when playing a friendly match there in July 2008, just two months after landing both the Premier League and Champions League trophies.
The game - at which our main image above was taken - was held at the Abuja National Stadium where FA Cup winners Portsmouth provided the opposition. Chris Eagles and Carlos Tevez scored for the Reds in a 2-1 win watched by a passionate crowd of around 30,000.
United's chief executive at the time, David Gill, was quoted as saying:
“Our own research has shown Nigeria is home to our fourth largest fan base - some 13.6 million supporters - so this is an opportunity for us to say thank you to those fans.”
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