Kelechi Iheanacho

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Kelechi Promise Iheanacho (Igbo: [ɪ̙ɦeanãtʃɔ̙] born 3 October 1996) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays for Premier League club Leicester City and the Nigeria national team. He has made appearances for Manchester City, as well as the Nigeria squad that won the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup and the Nigeria U-20 team at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.Iheanacho was called up to the Manchester City senior squad for the 2015–16 season.

Club career

Manchester City

Early career

Iheanacho was born in the state of Imo. As a youth, he represented Taye Academy in Owerri, the capital city of Imo. His performances for Nigeria in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup led to interest from clubs in Europe; teams following his progress included Arsenal, Sporting Clube de Portugal and Porto. In December 2012, Iheanacho travelled to England to discuss a move to Manchester City. He signed a pre-contract agreement with the club, stating his intent to formally sign for City on his 18th birthday in October 2014. In the interim, he returned to Nigeria. As the year drew to a close, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) named him the Most Promising Talent of the Year for 2013 at the CAF Awards

Leicester City

Iheanacho was signed by Premier League club Leicester City on a five-year contract on 3 August 2017, for a reported £25 million fee. He made his debut for the club in a 4–3 defeat to Arsenal on 11 August 2017. He scored his first goal for Leicester in an EFL Cup tie against Leeds United on 24 October 2017. On 16 January 2018, Iheanacho became the first player in English football to be awarded a goal due to VAR, as the referee deemed that the player had been incorrectly ruled offside for his second goal. The goal was Iheanacho's second in a 2–0 win over Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup Third Round replay

International career

Iheanacho has represented Nigeria at youth levels from under-13 upwards. His first experience of a major international tournament was the 2013 African U-17 Championship in Morocco. For Iheanacho, the highlight was a hat-trick in a win against Botswana. He dedicated his goals to his mother, who died two months before the tournament.Nigeria reached the final of the competition, where they were defeated on penalties by the Ivory Coast.

Iheanacho played a significant role in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where he won the Golden Ball award for player of the tournament. Nigeria won the competition, in which Iheanacho scored six times, including once in the final, and provided seven assists. In the run-up to the 2014 African Nations Championship, Iheanacho trained with the senior Nigeria squad but was released from the squad in order to travel to England to sign with Manchester City. He was part of the Nigeria squad for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, and featured in two matches.

He was selected by Nigeria for their 35-man provisional squad for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but failed to make the final 18.

Iheanacho made his senior debut as a substitute in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Swaziland in which Nigeria drew 0–0. His 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 was selected by Nigeria in friendly games against Mali and Luxembourg in May 2016. He scored in the two games, providing an assist against Luxembourg.

His performance in the friendly matches inspired further confidence within football circles in the nation and was invited to make his competitive debut against Egypt in an African Cup of Nations qualifying series where he provided an assist for Oghenekaro Etebo in the home game.

Despite the change made in the coaching personnel in August this year, he distinguished himself again as one of the most important players in the team when he scored two super goals in the two matches against Tanzania in Uyo and Zambia in Ndola.

In May 2018 he was named in Nigeria’s preliminary 30 man squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Honours

Manchester City

  • Football League Cup: 2015–16

Nigeria U17

  • FIFA U-17 World Cup: 2013

Individual

  • FIFA U-17 World Cup Golden Ball: 2013
  • CAF Most Promising Talent of the Year: 2013, 2016
  • CAF Team of the Year: 2016 (as a substitute)
  • FIFA U-17 World Cup Silver Shoe:
  • CAF U-17 African Championship Silver Shoe:

Personal life

Iheanacho is a devout Christian.

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