Wednesday, Apr 2021

Kelechi Promise Iheanacho emerged on the scene at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, he led his country to lift the championship with six goals and seven assists, named the most valuable player of the competition and also clinched the silver boot, enough reason Iheanacho became one of the most sought-after talents in Europe at that time.

With great talents comes with not just a big price tag but also big responsibility, many youngsters have failed to deliver with so much expected of them, the pressure and uncertainty but kelechi made a big move to Manchester City and broke into their first team at the age of 18. He started brightly in England, ending his first season with 14 goals which included a hat-trick against Aston Villa in the FA Cup.

Although Iheanacho only started 11 games in his first season but he was City’s third highest goal scorer, which earned him a place in City’s start studded first team the next season (2016/17) and was nominated for the FIFA Golden Boy Award, bagging 10 EPL goals before the age of 20 which includes a Manchester derby where he scored and assisted a goal. He received a tremendous attention in his early days at city thanks to the manager then Manuel Pellegrini. To be fair, Kelechi took his chances each time he was called to play despite not having enough minutes as a youngster for both club and the senior national team but things went soar with the change of manager and arrival of Gabriel Jesus as he fell the pecking order.

A move to Leicester City did come about, the 24 - year old Nigerian was also playing second to Jamie Vardy; one of the most prolific striker in the Premier League, Iheanacho form began to dip as he struggled to get minutes under his belt and as well struggled to find the back of the net. Yet he played for the Super Eagles of Nigeria couple of times and scored few times but was left out of the 23 man list that won bronze medal at the biennial African cup of nation in 2019 hosted in Egypt for lack of confidence. The Super Eagles gaffer, Gernot Rohr claimed Iheanacho’s professionalism improved but he lacked self-esteem after eight months without a goal.

Most youngsters never comeback after their downward spiral or crisis in their career, in the 2018/19 season, Kelechi only managed to score just once in more than 30 appearances for Leicester City. A potential failure was looming ahead as he failed to live up to his potential, the world have witnessed so many talents that failed to reach their potentials due to different reasons, from injuries to price tag, psychological issues and sometimes overhyped average talents. Iheanacho was about to join that list but his revival as senior man this season has earned him March’s Premier league player of the month and also a contract extension, keeping him at the club till at least 2024.

Senior man kelz, a nickname that tells the whole story about his resurgence in the last few weeks as the Nigerian is beginning to live up to the promise he showed as a youngster, emerging from the shadows of Jamie Vardy. In the month of March, Senior man scored his first premier league hat-trick against Sheffield, a brace against Manchester United in the FA Cup to send Leicester City into the semi-final of the competition for the first time since 1981/82, taking his tally to a total of nine goals in his last nine appearances in all competition for the Foxes.

The once thrilling prospect will be hoping to maintain his fine form to help his team secure a top four finish in the Premier League, fight for the FA Cup trophy and hope this is not just an odd moment of brilliance again in his career, having stood out as a top prospect when he was coming through the ranks. Kelechi Iheanacho can actualize his dreams as the ‘Senior Man’.

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