Odion Ighalo.

Ighalo: I'm so inspired by the United dream

Odion Ighalo has become an instant hit with the Manchester United fans since joining on loan in January, after scoring four goals in eight appearances and displaying a genuine love for the club.

Our Nigerian striker displays his obvious passion and emotion during episode one of our new ‘My Inspiration’ series, in which the 30-year-old credits the people and players who have helped him to achieve his dream of playing professional football.

As can you read in the Q&A below, or by watching the video in full, Ighalo is totally enthralled by his time as a Red so far and would love to spend more time at Old Trafford. Check it out…

Firstly, Odion, what inspired you to play football?
“Where I grew up in Nigeria, in Lagos, every kid's desire is to play football. When I would see kids going out to play football, I would like to join them to play. That is how I got that passion to play football. Every day, I had to go out there and join the guys to play football.”

My Inspiration: Odion Ighalo editionVideo

Who inspired you most when you were growing up?
“Well, I would say it is my siblings. My mum, too, is one of my inspirations, because she always encouraged me. Even when my dad was not supportive when I started, she encouraged me, pushed me through and supported me in every way, though the steps I took when I was young to be who I am today. So I would say my mum inspired me, my siblings and some friends around me as well.”
Who were your football heroes growing up?
“Well, I had a lot of football heroes. When I started supporting Man United, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were my heroes growing up. And some Nigerian players as well like Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu. They are great players, they were my heroes growing up and I watched them on TV. It is a great privilege for me to play at Man United, where great players like Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole have played.”


Was there a particular player you modelled parts of your game on?

“Yeah, I would say that as a striker I watched Andy Cole a lot and Dwight Yorke. They were great strikers and scored a lot of goals. So I would watch their movements, the way they played, the way they created space for themselves, watching the way they met crosses behind defenders. I learned all of that and it has helped me a lot in my football career.”

Cole's Top 10 goals for UnitedVideo

Before you go out on the pitch, is there something that you think about it?
“Well, before I go out on the pitch to play, I am just listening to my worship songs and listening to calm music that will keep me fresh, positive and thinking about the game. I like to listen to music, so I am relaxed and good to go.”


Who do you most look forward to sharing your success with?
“I would say it is my family, my kids, my mum. I always call them to give them the good news with everything that is going on with my career.”


Which words or phrases best describe you as a player?
“Well, many people would say he is a gentle guy but inside he is a beast. I am a fighter, I never give up, I go for what I believe I can achieve and I give my best, 100 per cent, no matter the outcome of the game, win or lose, I always give 100 per cent from the beginning.”

What is the most inspiring thing about Manchester United?
“Wow, there is a lot, there is a lot. Seeing the club from the outside you don't know how big it is. But when you are inside you know how big the club is. I am inspired by the way the club is structured, I am inspired by the direction of the club, I am inspired by the development of the young players and how they are coming through from the grassroots to the first team. I am inspired by a lot of things at United, I am really inspired and I am looking forward to spending more time with the team.”

What is the one piece of advice you would give to any young aspiring footballers?
“I would tell the young ones in the world today that they should work hard, believe in themselves and believe in their dreams. They should focus because, with hard work and determination, you can achieve what you want in life. Talent is not enough in football. When you have talent and you don't work, it is not enough. Put in the hard work and believe in God, and I think you will have what it takes to achieve your dream.”

WHO WANTS TO WIN?

In celebration of Odion Ighalo winning the March Goal of the Month award, we are giving away one of the Nigerian's signed United shirts to one lucky winner. So what are you waiting for? Enter the competition now and keep your fingers crossed!

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