Odion Ighalo became the first Nigerian to play for Manchester United after taking a pay cut in the year from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua in 2020 to chase his dream at the club he had supported since boyhood.
Unfortunately the drawbacks of covid-19 meant that his deal at Old Trafford was cut short and he returned to the club. He was moved on to Saudi Arabia with Al-Shabab immediately.
However, he managed to play 12 league matches for Manchester United before leaving Old Trafford but could not register a goal or an assist. He was more useful to the club in the Europa League and the FA Cup, however, scoring five goals in 23 total appearances for the club.
Ighalo has no regrets about Man United spell
Ighalo told ESPN about his time at Manchester United: “In years to come, you need something to show your children… I have been talking to my children about Manchester United, the experience.
“I left Old Trafford with pride, with my head up, because it was my dream team and not everybody's dream comes to pass. Mine came to pass so every day of my life, I'm grateful.
“To be the first Nigerian to play there and so far the only Nigerian, those are great achievements for me and I did well so I'm happy for that.”
Ighalo was unfortunate not to win a trophy with United which is telling on the current state of the Premier League giants. Ighalo, however, says he will be a Manchester United fan till death.
“The atmosphere in Old Trafford is different. It is a big club. If you're not inside, you don't know how big the club is. It is a massive, massive, massive club,” he said.
“So, I thank God I played for the biggest club in the world, it's an achievement for me and when you say, “what I should do better”, I think I did everything I should do. I worked hard, I scored a few goals and I'm happy.
“I don't have one regret, I have zero regrets for my time at Manchester United. They are still my team till today and I'm going to support that team to death.
“Even when they are struggling, I will still support them because it is Red Devils all the way.”
Ighalo explains exclusion from Super Eagles Afcon squad
In the interview with ESPN, the 32-year-old striker also talked about the reasons surrounding his exclusion from the 2021 African Cup of Nations squad for Nigeria despite being called up and travelling to the Super Eagles camp.
According to Ighalo who has over 30 caps for the Super Eagles of Nigeria, his former club Al-Shabab were supposed to issue him an exit visa in order to allow him travel to Cameroon, but did not do so.
“I was not happy with them and we decided to part ways because the Nations Cup that I didn't go to caused a lot of bad blood,” Ighalo said.
“Four hours until my flight [to Cameroon], they had not sent me the exit visa. I called the team manager, and he told me they did not get an invitation. But I had a copy of the invitation that was sent because they copied me in the email.
“We had all this back and forth going on, I changed the ticket to the next day, and then the third day, and they still did not send me the visa. At that point I knew they did not want me to go.
“My anger was that they should have told me straight up, not smiling in my face one day and then acting a different way. That is why I decided to leave.”
He has continued where he stopped in the Saudi Arabian league with his new club Al Hilal, scoring a brace in his first league game and also scoring in their run up to the semi final of the 2021 FIFA club World Cup.
Ighalo says he wants to help Al Hilal continue their title-winning traditions: “They won the last two league titles, they won the last two Asian Champions League, the League and the Cup.
“It's up to me to join the guys and keep winning trophies.”
This article was most recently revised and updated 10 months ago