‘How I Supported My Boyhood Club Man Utd In Lagos Slum Ajegunle’ – Ighalo Narrates

‘How I Supported My Boyhood Club Man Utd In Lagos Slum Ajegunle’ – Ighalo Narrates

Former Super Eagles striker Odion Ighalo has revealed how his love for Manchester United knows no bounds with the 30-year-old admitting when he was a youngster he would save his lunch money to be able to afford to watch their matches at a viewing centre.

The Nigerian who has three goals already to his name since his temporary move from Shanghai Shenhua in January grew up in a slum in Lagos State, and he is happy to be living his dream at Old Trafford.

“I know many footballers say that, when they sign for a team, this is my dream team. Respect to that but my own case was different,” Ighalo told Sky Sports.

“Anyone who knows me back from when I was young knows me and my siblings supported Man United, we would pay to go and watch Man United play.

“In Nigeria, you have to have sports channels to watch that but not everyone can afford it. My parents couldn't afford that so you have to pay a viewing centre to watch that. We would pay to watch that.

“I grew up in Ajegunle, which is like a ghetto and it was very difficult there. When it would get to the weekend, everybody was excited because they wanted to watch Man United play.”

Ighalo recalled his experience in the viewing centre filled with hundreds of people and his participation in a Manchester United fan forum group.

“You start saving the money they would give you to go to school. You would eat at home and they would give you some pocket money to go to school and maybe eat lunch there. But you would be saving it bit by bit and when you get to the weekend, everybody is ready,” he continued.

“You have your jersey and you wash it before the weekend. You put them on and go to the viewing centre and it's crazy there. Some other fans want Man United to lose then you're a Man United fan and you want them to win and you start arguing, shouting, screaming and all of that.

“In some {viewing centres] there are 200 people in this small room. You go to another one and you see 500 people in there. Some people would stand, you're paying but even then, you're standing and watching it from afar. There's a big screen and a little screen and you have to watch there.

“Back then, Manchester United were the best team in England. They won every game, every season you'd see them winning the Premier League when Sir Alex Ferguson was here. Everybody wants to associate with a team that's winning and that's how I associated myself. I was very young then and growing up, I followed the team upto today.

“Back then, they also had an association of Man United fans so there would be a meeting once a week to talk about Man United, like a little fan forum. When I remember all that now, I laugh and say ‘wow, from Ajegunle to the Theatre of Dreams'. It's a great moment for me and I'm enjoying every bit of it.

“It is the happiest moment of my life, playing for my dream team, the team I supported when I was young.”

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The former Watford striker is in contention to feature in today's Manchester derby when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side welcome rivals Manchester City to Old Trafford.

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 years ago