It was a dream come true for former Nigeria international Odion Ighalo when he joined his boyhood club Manchester United. But his spell at The Theatre of Dreams has come to an end.
“It’s so hard to see this dream come to an end,” Ighalo said in a farewell message to Manchester United fans.
“But I give God the glory for helping me fulfill this life long dream of putting on a Manchester United shirt as a player and represent this great club, it was indeed an honor I will forever cherish and be grateful for.”
United signed Ighalo in January 2020 on transfer deadline day for six months and later extended his deal in June. This loan will officially expire on January 31 2021.
The former Nigeria Super Eagles striker’s spell at United was like an unlikely fairytale. As a United fan, he fulfilled his dream of playing for and scoring for the club.
Ighalo joined Manchester United at a time when the Premier League was hard-hit by injuries to forward players – Marcus Rashford, Daniel James and Anthony Martial battling with light injuries too.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was optimistic in Ighalo’s quality and experience after his transfer from Chinese side Shanghai Greenland Shenhua.
“The club has always been very good and, in Odion, we get a proper man, a great lad and a good goalscorer,” Solskjaer told the club website.
Ighalo netted five goals in total for United, with all of them scored in the Europa League and FA Cup.
Months after, majority of the injured forward players regained fitness. This reduced his playing time across all competitions for Manchester United.
Ighalo’s continued sideline became undebatable when the club signed Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani from Paris Saint German on a free transfer in October.
However, the Nigerian will be remembered as a player who made his contribution to the club when they needed despite being on a short term.
Ighalo is grateful for the opportunity to wear the Manchester United jersey as a player.
“To the Manager I say thank you for trusting and believing in me when many did not, to my amazing team mates I will miss you guys, it was always fun and a time i look forward to training and spending time with all of you,” Ighalo said.
“I’m still and would remain a MANCHESTER UNITED FAN forever. Once a Red, always a Red.”
Ighalo is cheering Manchester United who currently sit second to Manchester City to win the Premier League title and win the Emirates FA Cup.
Many Manchester United fans, especially Nigerians who wished his time at Old Trafford did not to come to an end have showered praises on the former Nigeria international.
Congrats bro! 🇳🇬
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) January 26, 2021
It has always felt as if you were an embodiment of all United fans. You reminded everyone what it meant to put that hallowed shirt, when the club needed it most! Personally I will never forget the way you celebrated Mctomninay’s goal in the Manchester Derby! Thank you & Good Luck
— Nelson de Sousa (@nelson_de_sousa) January 26, 2021
thank you for this goal 🥅 my fav ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/p1k4vCiizy
— Cop GuyGuy 👮♂️🇬🇭 (@CopGuyGuy) January 26, 2021
Thank you Odion and good luck in the future ❤️
— utdreport (@utdreport) January 26, 2021
Good luck, Odion!
— Sam Homewood (@SamHomewood) January 26, 2021
We love you! Thank you for everything ❤️#GGMU
— Uche Jombo Rodriguez (@uchejombo) January 26, 2021
You made history. All the best going forward. Continue shining. 🙌🏾
— Usher Komugisha (@UsherKomugisha) January 26, 2021
👏🏽❤️ all the best for your next journey and thank you
— Joshua Matulessy (@jflowrighthere) January 27, 2021
Ighalo … Ighalo…Ighalo, the hope you have an African child when you wore the jersey. The humility and patience, the focus and always being ready when called upon. You are an icon of so many bro. God shine your way💖💯
— Big Daddy Africa (@Gg_Munyua) January 27, 2021
Thank you for your dedication, attitude and determination. My two regrets are that you didn’t get more time on the pitch and that you didn’t experience playing in front of of 74,000 fans at Old Trafford. I wish you the best of luck in your career. @ighalojude is a Red
— graeme wright DipWSET💙 (@graeme_56) January 27, 2021
All heart. Proper devil.
— Emmett J. Scanlan (@EmmettScanlan) January 26, 2021
Ighalo has not announced his next move after the expiration of his loan deal with Manchester United.