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Happy Birthday Kelechi Iheanacho: Facts you might not know about Leicester City star

17:44 BST 04/10/2022
Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City and Nigeria.
GOAL takes a look at amazing facts about the Nigeria international and Leicester City striker as he celebrates his birthday
  • Owerri market

    Place of birth

    He was born in the town of Obogwe, Owerri West, Imo State on October 3, 1996, to James Iheanacho and Mercy Iheanacho.

    Owerri sits in the rain forest and produces many agricultural products, such as yams, cassava, taro, corn, rubber and palm products. Owerri also sits on huge crude oil and natural gas reserves like most of the Igbo land areas.

  • Kelechi Iheanacho

    What's in his name?

    A name is not just the declaration of one’s identity, but also an expression of what and who constitutes the unique self.  Kelechi is an Igbo name which mean ‘Thank God’.

    On a broader level, it means a male child who has brought blessing and success to his parents. Judging by the Leicester City star’s achievements. It is not out of place that he has justified the meaning of his name.

  • Kelechi Iheanacho

    Early career

    In 2011, he started out his football career with Taye Academy – a non-league side in Owerri. Thanks to his impressive performances at grassroots competitions, he earned a call-up to the Nigeria U17 team handled by Manu Garba.

  • Kelechi Iheanacho Nigeria

    First international hat-trick

    Before playing for the Nigeria U17 team, the striker had represented the country at U13 and U15 level.

    His first international treble was against Congo during the 2013 African U17 Championship in Morocco.

    Inside Stade de Marrakech, Iheanacho found the net on three occasions in the 7-0 decimation of the Congolese side.

    Unfortunately, Nigeria lost in the final on penalties after a draw 1-1 after extra-time.

  • Kelechi Iheanacho

    Successes as a teenager

    Apart from playing a crucial role in the Golden Eaglets lifting the Fifa U17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, he was one of the tournament’s shining lights.

    He won the tournament’s Golden Ball being the best player as well as the Silver Shoe after scoring six goals – one short of Sweden’s Valmir Berisha.

    His exploits saw him named as Caf Most Promising Talent of the Year in 2013 – a feat he repeated three years later. Interestingly, he is the second African to win this prize twice after compatriot Obafemi Martins.

  • Daniel Bryan

    Trademark goal celebration

    The sight of Iheanacho pointing towards the sky with both hands after scoring a goal has become a regular occurrence on international and club duties.

    It is, in fact, an imitation of his favourite wrestler, Daniel Bryan.

    “I watch him on TV and I love the way he whips up the crowd this way, so I decided to copy it,” he said, as reported by Fifa website, “The fans seemed to like it, too.”

  • Kanu Nwankwo

    Who was his football idol?

    Upcoming Nigerian players consider Iheanacho as a role model, but it’s easy to forget that he had an idol growing up too, just like any other aspiring footballers. His was fellow Nigerian and Arsenal legend Nwankwo Kanu.

    “He is the true hero of football in our country. Back home, he’s like a father, like a brother. He’s like everything to me. He always gives us advice,” he told Fifa website.

    “He comes to train with us, to make sure we’re happy and moving in the right direction. He helps us to understand what football is really about, and what it takes to make it in the game.

    “Talking with him and being with him is just a great honour.”

  • HD Kelechi Iheanacho Manchester City

    Stats don’t lie

    Having scored 14 goals in 35 appearances on his maiden season in England, Iheanacho ended the 2015-16 campaign with the best goals-per-minute ratio of any player in the Premier League, averaging a goal every 93.9 minutes.

  • Kelechi Iheanacho Nigeria

    Maiden Super Eagles match

    He made his senior international debut as a substitute in a 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifying match against Eswatini in which Nigeria drew 0–0.

    The striker’s first start for the senior team was on 25 March 2016, a 1–1 draw with Egypt in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match. Iheanacho has gone ahead to boast 44 Super Eagles caps with 12 goals to his credit.

  • Kelechi Iheanacho Manchester City

    Aston Villa will never forget

    Iheanacho scored his first career hat-trick against Aston Villa on January 30, 2016 in the fourth round of the FA Cup, also setting up the Citizens’ fourth goal scored by Raheem Sterling.

    The following month, he was put in City's Uefa Champions League squad at the expense of the injured Samir Nasri.  

  • Pounded Yam

    A lover of Eba and Pounded yam

    Everyone is aware of of his love of food – most especially African cuisine.

    As a footballer, he has a strict diet which keeps him strong.

    But when he is not on diet, he loves eating Eba and Pounded Yam.

    “Our food (Nigerian Food), I can't do without them, anywhere in the world if I can go the extra mile to get them, I would. But when you are about to play a game you have to make sure you eat the proper food, you can't eba or pounded yam before taking to the pitch,” he told Nigeria Info.

  • Kelechi Iheanacho Nigeria 2018

    Net worth

    Iheanacho is currently one of the richest and most influential football players in Nigeria with an estimated to be about £22.36m, according to Pulse Sports.

    He is signed as a Nike athlete, expectedly making money from the giant sportswear company for his ambassadorial duties. The Leicester man is also a Multichoice Nigeria ambassador.

    Odogwu biko cut small soap for me!

     

  • Kelechi Iheanacho Leicester 2021-22

    How he got his nickname 'Senior man'

    Iheanacho disclosed how he came about the curious nickname ‘senior man’. “It’s what players from Nigeria who play in Europe are called when they come back to the country,” Iheanacho told the Guardian.

    “It’s a lot in the country now. People don’t really call me by my name anymore – it’s like they have forgotten it. People just call me Senior Man. Even older people; it’s quite funny.”

  • Kelechi Iheanacho and Patson Daka.

    A song dedicated to him

    In 2018, Nigerian musician Mr. Naijarule released a music song named Kelechi Iheanacho. That song is a praise of the Super Eagles striker and his laudable achievements on and off the pitch.

  • Kelechi Iheanacho

    Unblemished Premier League record

    Kelechi Iheanacho is the first player in Premier League history to score a goal on all seven days of the week within a single season in the competition.

  • Kelechi Iheanacho Leicester

    The real birthday boy

    After finding the net in Leicester City’s 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace on October 3, 2021 Iheanacho became the third Nigerian in Premier League history to score on his birthday, after Jay-Jay Okocha (Bolton) in 2004 and Obafemi Martins (Newcastle) in 2008.