Super Eagles striker, Kelechi Iheanacho has said that he derived inspiration from the story of Jamie Vardy just as he admitted that his Leicester City team-mate has given him the motivation to become a better player.
The 22-year-old watched in awe as Vardy broke the record for scoring in consecutive Premier League games in 2015 when he found the net in 11 games straight and Iheanacho said he is now trying to learn from the England striker after joining City from Manchester City.
“I have been watching him and when I was at Manchester City I was really following him and when he broke the record against Manchester United, it was the motivation for me as well,” said Iheanacho.
“So seeing him scoring 11 games straight, it gives every youngster motivation to know anything is possible in football.
“I have been watching him since. I didn’t know I am going to come here so playing alongside him is a joy and I am happy learning from him and keep improving,” he added.
Vardy’s rags to riches story is well known but Iheanacho’s humble beginnings in Nigeria makes his emergence even more remarkable, especially as he admits he hardly ever got to watch football growing up.
While the adults were watching at communal screenings, Iheanacho was off practising his skills so one day they would be watching him.
“When I was growing up I don’t have the chance to watch a lot of football because I can’t afford to watch football,” he revealed.
“The viewing centre was a place you go to watch football in Nigeria but you have to pay to watch football at a viewing centre, so if you don’t have the means or the money to pay, you can’t watch.
“The generators make a big telly and people gather to watch television and have argument about things and life and everything, so it is a very interesting place.
“I couldn’t afford to pay to watch them. You have to pay to watch it so I didn’t have the chance, the opportunity to watch as much, the Premier League. It was expensive then and I didn’t have that much chance to watch.
“I watched a little bit maybe important games I could save money and watch them, so I think I watch a bit of Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure, Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba when I was back home in Nigeria.
“So many didn’t get the opportunity to watch it as well as me, so I just kick the ball and I just kick the ball and keep hoping that is what I do and if I get the opportunity to watch the game, if they allow me then I go but I have to fundraise but I get 10 per cent of the fundraising to watch the game.”
Now they are watching Iheanacho in the viewing centres and the young striker hopes seeing him on the big screen will make his countrymen proud.
“I think I have made them proud and I have to keep doing it,” he added.
“I don’t have to stop. I have to keep doing it and the struggle continues. They are before me and they are proud and I will keep doing them proud.”