Home news Inspiring Story of Kelechi Iheanacho’s Meteoric Rise To Football Fame

Inspiring Story of Kelechi Iheanacho’s Meteoric Rise To Football Fame

Iheanacho representing Imo State at a junior football tournament
Whenever the name Kelechi Iheanacho is mentioned in football
circle, what people visualise is a young man who was fortunate to find himself
in soccer hall of fame.
However his story is not as easy as many thought. His
struggle in life has been described as topsy turvy by close friends and allies.
As a youth, Iheanacho represented Taye Academy in Owerri. His
performances for Nigeria in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup led to interest from
clubs in Europe. Teams following his progress included Arsenal, Sporting Clube
de Portugal and Porto.
In December 2013, Iheanacho travelled to England to discuss a
move to Manchester City where he signed a pre-contract agreement with the club,
stating his intent to formally sign for Manchester City on his 18th birthday in
October 2014. In the interim, he returned to Nigeria. As the year drew to a
close, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) named him the Most Promising
Talent of the Year for 2013 during the CAF Awards.
But just how much do you know about the personal life of the
Golden Eaglets’ Kelechi Iheanacho won the Golden Ball award at 2013 Fifa U17 World Cup

His mother, Mercy, died some years ago precisely in February
after a short illness. Her death meant that the young footballer would have to
depend heavily on his father.
In an interview he granted to UK’s Daily Mail, Iheanacho
said: ‘My father (James) was a trader and my mum was a teacher, but she was
laid to rest a few years ago which was really hard for all of us.
‘I have two brothers and a sister back in Nigeria as well.
Everything I do, I do for my mum and my family – that’s what drives me.
‘My dad is back home and I’m living on my own in Manchester
at the moment.
‘But I think a lot of kids back home have been encouraged by
what’s happened to me and by where I am today. They can’t believe what I’ve
achieved at just 19 years of age and it further gives them the belief that they
can make it too.’
Manchester City fought off competition from FC Porto and
Sporting Lisbon to agree a pre-contract with Iheanacho, but had a long wait
before completing the signing and securing a work permit.
He added: ‘I’d played a few games at the Under-17 World Cup
finals, and that’s when I agreed a deal with City. In all honesty, I didn’t
know that much about the club at the time.
‘I was close to signing for FC Porto where I really wanted to
go. City are such a big team with so many fantastic players, I didn’t believe
I’d have a future here. But my father did and he gave me the confidence I
needed. I’m happy I took his advice.’
‘I first heard of City’s interest when I was with Nigeria for
the World Under-17 qualifiers,” he said. “When we finished the
qualification process, I had a few scouts approaching me and telling me I had
quite a few clubs interested in signing me. But I didn’t want to sign for
anyone at that time, I just wanted to enjoy my football.”
Today, Iheanacho’s consistency and goal poaching instinct has
forced him to claim a first team shirt ahead of established midfield players like Samir
Nasri whose nagging injury woes has continued for some time now.
In fact, many believed that the likes of Edin Dzeko were
offloaded to pave way for youthful talents like him a chance for the future.

The giant leap of Kel, as his friends fondly call him, from
the grassroots to one of the biggest clubs in the world has continue to elicit
hope from young struggling footballers across Africa.

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Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis is a communicator, Journalist, blogger, business coach and, of course, a prolific writer. He has Dip (Journalism) and B.A. (History & International Relations) from the Lagos State University (LASU). The self-effacing young man has worked for national, regional and local newspapers. He had worked with THISDAY covered community news for ISLAND NEWS and corresponded with P.M. NEWS (evening tabloid). Presently, he is the editor of CITYPULSE MEDIA and senior correspondent of PHARMANEWS, West Africa foremost health and pharmaceutical journal.