Shanghai Shenhua striker Odion Ighalo won Nigeria’s Footballer of the Year award for 2019 at the prestigious Nigerian Sports Award in the commercial capital Lagos on Friday.
The 30-year-old beat Barcelona women’s forward Asisat Oshoala and Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze in the vote.
“It’s such a great honour to be rewarded, but this was only possible because of tremendous support from my teammates both at club and international level,” Ighalo told Opera News.
“I may have been the one to be honoured but is for all the people that have been there from my family to fellow players, coaches, fans and those who push me all the time.”
Many believed it was a two-horse race between Ighalo and Oshoala for the maiden ‘combined’ men and women Footballer of the Year award.
Former Liverpool and Arsenal star Oshoala played a pivotal role as Nigeria reached the second round of the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
But Ighalo’s incredible run for the Super Eagles in 2019 gave him an edge over Oshoala.
At the start of the year, Ighalo turned down a move to European giants Barcelona to continue his career in the Chinese Super League (CSL).
“My agent spoke to me about a loan interest from Barcelona. The club wanted a striker with La Liga experience and someone who understands Spanish football,” Ighalo told BBC Sport in March.