*The former Super Eagles forward reveals why Red Devils fans love him
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Former Super Eagles forward, Odion Ighalo, whose loan deal with Manchester United is due to end exactly one month from today, has revealed why supporters of the Red Devils loved him their hearts and souls.
The 31-year-old who will resume the rest of his contract with Chinese Super League club, Shanghai Shenhua after January 31, said in the latest Manchester United’s Podcast that his dedication and love for the Old Trafford team right from his young age in Nigeria endeared him to the fans.
With Marcus Rashford out injured at the time he arrived last January and United still fighting on several fronts, the Edo-born footballer quickly became a fan favourite, scoring five goals in his first four starts for the club, to equal a 95-year-old record. That was before the Coronavirus lockdown sports globally in March.
“They know I’m here to play for the team and to give my best and they know I’m a fan like them, before I start playing for the team,” Odion enthused in that podcast on United’s website yesterday.
“I didn’t come here to just play one game or make the money. I’m a boyhood fan of this team and I came here to play with my heart, to give everything until the day I leave.
“I give my best, whether the game is good or bad. I keep trying 100 per cent. They knew that from the first day and that’s why they supported me.
“Even today, I see the same messages from the fans (on social media) which I cherish and I’m happy about,” Ighalo stressed with Pride even as he’s set to leave for China.
Ighalo’s loan deal was extended prior to Project Restart, keeping him in the Premier League until 31 January 2021.
The former Nigerian international has made four first-team appearances this campaign, to add to his 19 from 2019/20.
Most of his games for United have come from the bench, including what he sees as his undoubted highlight of his year-long spell – March’s 2-0 Manchester derby win, in what is to date the last Old Trafford game with supporters in attendance.
Hear Ighalo: “That was electrifying! That was crazy!” recalls Ighalo. “I’ve never seen an atmosphere like that before, the atmosphere that day was crazy in Old Trafford.
“When I sat down on the bench, I was watching the crowd and I was like ‘wow, this is different level’.
“Being on that pitch when we scored the second goal, I was going mental. I was jumping like I was the one who scored the goal! I did not score in the game but I was happy because the atmosphere was crazy. “
“That was one of the biggest games: it’s a derby game and the fans were pleased, they were happy. That was one of the best moments in Old Trafford, for me,” concludes the former Watford frontman.