Kelechi Promise Iheanacho, often spelled as Ịheanachọ in Igbo, is a renowned Christian Nigerian professional footballer who currently serves as a forward for EFL Championship club Leicester City and represents the Nigeria national team. Known for his impressive skills and goal-scoring ability, Iheanacho has carved a prominent place for himself in the world of football.
- Advertisement -
Born on October 3, 1996, in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria, Kelechi Iheanacho’s journey in football began at a young age. As a youth, he honed his talents at Taye Academy in Owerri, the capital city of Imo State. His exceptional performances for Nigeria in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup caught the attention of several European clubs, including Arsenal, Sporting CP, and Porto. In December 2012, Iheanacho traveled to England to discuss a potential move to Manchester City. He signed a pre-contract agreement with the club, expressing his intention to officially join City on his 18th birthday in October 2014. During this time, he returned to Nigeria and was recognized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) as the Most Promising Talent of the Year for 2013 at the CAF Awards.
- Advertisement -
Iheanacho officially joined Manchester City’s Academy on January 10, 2015. Although he couldn’t play in England until February 2015 due to work permit delays, he made his debut at the under-19 level in a UEFA Youth League match against Schalke 04. Unfortunately, his debut was cut short by an injury after only 11 minutes. After his recovery, Iheanacho started representing Manchester City in both youth and under-21 levels. He played in the FA Youth Cup final, scoring a goal, but his team suffered a 5-2 aggregate defeat against Chelsea. However, he quickly redeemed himself by scoring the decisive goal in Manchester City’s victory over Porto in the final of the 2014-15 Premier League International Cup.
- Advertisement -
The 2015-16 season showcased Iheanacho’s prowess as he impressed during Manchester City’s pre-season tour in Australia. He contributed significantly, setting up goals and scoring against teams like Roma and the Vietnam national team. As a result, Iheanacho earned a place in Manchester City’s senior squad. His competitive debut came on August 29, 2015, when he replaced Raheem Sterling in the final minutes of a 2-0 victory against Watford. Iheanacho soon made his mark, scoring his first competitive goal in a match against Crystal Palace on September 12, 2015. He continued to shine throughout the season, scoring a hat-trick against Aston Villa in the FA Cup and notching important goals in the Premier League and Champions League matches. By the end of the 2015-16 season, Iheanacho had accumulated eight Premier League goals and had the best goals-per-minute ratio, averaging a goal every 93.9 minutes. He finished the season with a total of 14 goals and 5 assists from 35 appearances, making him Manchester City’s third-highest scorer.
The 2016-17 season saw Iheanacho’s contributions continue, including goals in the Manchester derby and Champions League matches. His performances earned him a nomination for the FIFA Golden Boy award, further solidifying his status as a rising star in the football world. Iheanacho’s final goal for Manchester City came in a 5-1 FA Cup fifth-round replay victory over Huddersfield.
With a record of 21 goals and 4 assists from 64 appearances for Manchester City, Iheanacho’s time at the club was marked by notable achievements. However, as the competition for playing time increased with the arrival of new signings, his opportunities became limited.
In August 2017, Kelechi Iheanacho made a move to Leicester City for a reported fee of around £25 million, signing a five-year contract with the club. He quickly made an impact, scoring his first goal for Leicester in a League Cup match against Leeds United. Throughout the 2017-18 season, Iheanacho showcased his abilities and contributed important goals, finishing the campaign with 8 goals and 7 assists in all competitions.
In the subsequent seasons, Iheanacho faced challenges in securing a regular starting position due to the presence of established forwards like Jamie Vardy. However, he continued to make significant contributions as a substitute and in cup competitions. Notably, in the 2020-21 season, Iheanacho played a crucial role in Leicester City’s journey to the FA Cup final. He scored important goals in the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the final itself, helping the club secure their first-ever FA Cup trophy.
Iheanacho’s performances earned him recognition and accolades. In April 2021, he was named the Premier League Player of the Month after scoring 5 goals in 3 games. His form also earned him a place in the Nigeria national team, where he has represented his country in various international competitions, including the Africa Cup of Nations.
As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Kelechi Iheanacho’s career trajectory has been on an upward trajectory. However, for the most recent updates and detailed information about his career, it is advisable to refer to reliable sources or news outlets that cover current football events.