Odion Jude Ighalo (born 16 June 1989) is a Nigerian footballer who currently plays for the English Premier League (EPL) side, Manchester United, on loan. The top Nigerian star who is one of the most prominent footballers the country has produced retired from the international football scene in 2019.
In this Odion Ighalo biography facts, childhood, net worth and personal life, we’ll dig through Ighalo’s background to see how the young poor boy who played in the ghetto of one of Nigeria’s populous cities, rose to become one of the brightest stars to come out of Africa.
In Nigeria, Odion Ighalo is a really inspirational figure, a fact which came to light when he was loaned to Manchester United in January 2020.
The move which was widely celebrated in the West African country gives insight to the amazing support the country which boasts of one of the largest football proponents in the world gives to its players.
Despite the fact that Odion Ighalo is well loved in Nigeria, there have been times, when he has been on the receiving end of bitter criticisms from Nigerian football fans as a result of his exploits on the pitch which many believe was not convincing for a player of his calibre.
Odion Ighalo Biography Facts
Odion Ighalo’s knowledge-base shows below all the interesting data and quick facts you need to know about his biography.
- Full Name: Odion Jude Ighalo
- Date of Birth: 16 June 1989
- Age: 33 years
- Place of Birth: Lagos, Nigeria
- State of Origin: Edo
- Nationality: Nigerian
- Citizenship: Nigeria, Italy
- Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
- Weight: 73 kg (161 Ib)
- Father: Paul Ighalo
- Mother: Martina Ighalo
- Spouse: Sonia Ighalo (married 2009)
- Children: Samuel Ighalo (son), Júlia Emboaba (daughter)
- Siblings: Daniel Ighalo (brother), Mary Atole (sister)
- Playing Position: Striker
- Strong Foot: Right
- Current Club/Team: Manchester United (on loan)
- Jersey/Kit Number: #25
- Net Worth: $60 million
- Zodiac Sign: Gemini
Odion Ighalo Childhood/Early Life
Ighalo was born on the 16th of June 1989, in Ajegunle, a ghetto area in Lagos State, known for harbouring several musical as well as football talents. He has two siblings – Daniel Ighalo and Mary Atole, his elder sister.
His father, Paul Ighalo was unemployed while Ighalo was a young boy. His mother, Martin Ighalo, worked as a petty trader, selling provisions as well as soft drinks.
Ighalo grew up in a family with financial constraints. His mother sometimes had to hawk sachet water in the streets of Lagos, in order to provide for Ighalo and his siblings.
When his parents learnt of his interest in football, his father specifically dissuaded him from playing football, but his mother supported her son with the little she had.
Ighalo’s mother supported him with money to buy football boots and transport himself to games. A defiant Ighalo defied his father and continued playing football.
While playing football at times, Ighalo and his peers had to hide in order not to be hit by stray bullets from gunfire exchange between the police and drug peddlers.
This was the major reason his father disagreed with his decision to play football. But even after defying his father’s orders, his mother would protect Ighalo from being spanked by his father.
Ighalo dropped out of school to focus on football and played in a local football pitch called Macarena in Ajegunle, where several top Nigerian football stars such as Kanu Nwankwo had played in.
Ighalo’s turning point came when Marcelo Houseman, a FIFA agent of Argentine origin saw his talent and took him to Norway where he was placed on trial.
Odion Ighalo Early/Youth Career
Ighalo played for local football clubs in Nigeria. He played for clubs such as Prime FC and Julius Berger FC during his youth career. It was while he was playing for one of these clubs that he was noticed by Marcelo Houseman who introduced him to Atta Aneke, who later took him to Norway when he played for Lyn.
Odion Ighalo Professional Football Career Highlights
Ighalo debuted in the Tippeligaen, in September 2007, at the age of 18. In his debut game, he went on to score and helped his team win the match against Viking. In the 2008 season, Ighalo’s performance rose Lyn’s position in the Tippeligaen to 7th.
His performance attracted interests from other Tippeligaen clubs. Negotiations between SK Brann and Lyn over Ighalo went south with the former reporting Lyn to the Norwegian Football Federation.
In July 2008, Udinese and Lyn sealed a deal which saw Ighalo move to the Serie A club. He signed a five years contract with the club. In his first season in the Serie A, he had a good performance for a new player in the Serie A.
Granada (on loan 2009-2010)
During the summer of the 2009 season, Ighalo was sent on loan to the Spanish club, Granada. In his first season with Granada, Ighalo was instrumental to the club’s advancement.
He scored 17 goals and helped his side earn a promotion to a senior league. In his second season with Granada, Ighalo scored 5 goals and earned promotion for Granada, but was returned to Granada.
Casena (on loan 2010-2011)
Ighalo was sent on loan to Cesena where he played for a brief period.
Granada (on loan 2011-2014)
Ighalo’s loan stint continued as he was returned back to Granada to continued playing for the team after playing for just one season with Casena. He helped his side earn promotion to the La Liga and debuted in the top tier league in August 2011.
Watford (on loan 2014)
In July 2014, Udinese agreed to send Ighalo to EPL club, Watford on loan. In August 2014, he debuted for Watford in the Carabao Cup. He scored his first goal for Watford in the Carabao Cup in September 2014.
In October 2014, Udinese released Ighalo from his contract and Watford terminated their loan deal with Ighalo and offered him another deal which will seal him as a permanent Watford player. In August 2015, he scored his first Premier League goal in his first EPL game.
In December 2015, after he scored twice in a 3-0 win over Liverpool, he was given the EPL Player of the Month award. In March 2016, he scored a crucial goal to defeat Arsenal and help Watford advance to the semifinal of the FA Cup, for the first time in 9 years.
He agreed to a five years deal with Watford for the following season. Ighalo did not live up to expectation and struggled to find the back of the net during the 2017 season.
Changchun Yatai (2017-2019)
In January 2017, Ighalo moved to the Chinese Super League (CSL). He joined Changchun Yatai for £20 million. He ranked as the second top scorer in the CSL in his debut season, but the Changchun Yatai suffered relegation.
Shanghai Greenland Shenhua (2019-date)
As revealed by Ighalo, he refused an offer to play for Barcelona and moved to Shanghai Greenland Shenhua in February 2019. His top performance in the 2019 season received a bit of media attention.
Manchester United (on loan 2020-date)
In January 2020, Ighalo moved to United on loan to help bolster a struggling United attacking side.
Odion Ighalo International Career
In March 2015, Ighalo was called for the first time to play for the Nigerian senior football team. He was invited to play in the 2016 Olympics but did not play in the tournament. He played in the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia.
In what was perceived to be a poor performance by him, he was heavily criticised and death threats were issued to his family, as revealed by Ighalo. He scored the most goals for any player in the qualifications for the 2019 AFCON.
In the tournament, he was a prominent player who helped Nigeria emerge third. His team also made Team of the Tournament in the 2019 African Cup of Nations. After his exploits in the AFCON, he announced that he’ll retire from international football.
Odion Ighalo Net Worth
Ighalo’s net worth is currently estimated to be about $60 million. His deal with Manchester United will earn him a salary as much as £660,000 monthly. He has an endorsement deal with Multichoice Nigeria.
Odion Ighalo Personal Life
Ighalo is married to Sonia Ighalo. The couple who got married since 2009 now has three children.
In December 2019, Ighalo’s sister, Mary Atole, died. Ighalo honoured his late sister by inscribing her name in his boots.
In 2017, Ighalo established an orphanage home which was built with as much as £1 million. The orphanage is located in Ijagun, a suburban town in Lagos, marred by poverty.
Ighalo is a fan of Nigerian British boxer, Anthony Joshua.
Ighalo is proficient in Spanish as well as Italian languages and acted as an interpreter for both Spanish and Italian players while he played at Watford.
Ighalo is a Christian. He was once issued a yellow card by an Egyptian referee, Gehad Grisha, after lifting his shirt to reveal a white undershirt with an inscription of “THANK U JESUS” to celebrate his goal for the Nigeria Super Eagles. His actions also attracted additional sanctions by FIFA.
Anthony Siragusa (May 14, 1967 – June 22, 2022), nicknamed “the Goose”, was an American professional football player who was a defensive tackle for 12 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens in the National Football League (NFL). After his football career, he worked as a sideline analyst for NFL games broadcast on the Fox Network from 2003 to 2015.