Player Profile - Odion Ighalo

Odion Ighalo Buzzing For The Hornets

Personal information
Full name: Odion Jude Ighalo
Date of birth: 16 June 1989 
Age: 26
Place of birth: Lagos, Nigeria
Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in) 
Playing position: Striker

Club information
Current team: Watford
Number: 24

Youth career
2000–2005: Prime

Senior career
2005–2006 Prime 5 Appearances, 0 goals
2006–2007 Julius Berger 10 Appearances, 5 goals 
2007–2008 Lyn 20 Appearances, 9 goals 
2008–2014 Udinese 6 Appearances, 1 goal
2009–2010 → Granada (loan) 26 Appearances, 16 goals 
2010–2011 → Cesena (loan) 4 Appearances, 0 goals
2011–2014 → Granada (loan) 104 Appearances, 20 goals 
2014 → Watford (loan) 8 Appearances, 0 goals (3)
2014– Watford 58 Appearances, 34 goals  

National team
2009: Nigeria U20 3 Appearances, 0 goals 
2015– Nigeria 7 Appearances, 2 goals 

Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo has thanked his mother for giving him the opportunity to succeed as a youngster in Nigeria after the Watford striker ended 2015 as the top scorer across England's top four divisions. Ighalo, 26, is currently on a club-record run of scoring in six consecutive Premier League games for Watford and, with 14 goals so far this season, is one strike behind the top flight's highest scorers Jamie Vardy and Romelu Lukaku.

Ighalo has been linked with Atletico Madrid following his fine goal scoring form, and told Nigerian outlet The Cable that his mother's support was a key factor behind his success. Igahlo played in Norway and Spain before eventually earning a year-long loan move from Udinese - who have close ties to Watford - to the then-Championship club in summer 2014. The former Udinese and Granada striker netted for the Hornets in a 3-1 away defeat to Huddersfield in the Championship, on January 10, but kicked on to score an unprecedented seven goals in January, before following up with six in February. The striker signed for Watford permanently in October 2014 after Udinese terminated his contract, and the striker helped lead the Hornets to promotion to the Premier League. Igahlo earned his first senior call for the Nigeria national team in March, and spoke of his pride at representing the Super Eagles. "When I got my first call up for the Super Eagles, I was happy," he added. "I know that it's a privilege got me to have gotten the call up because there are over 170 million Nigerians; I was never afraid or having doubts in my mind of what I could do."I just wanted to come and give my best. And I know that I am going to do it. So, I am happy that I am here today." 

When Ighalo nutmegged Eric Dier and beat Hugo Loris to equalise for Watford against Tottenham Hotspur last week Monday, he scored for the sixth successive game and netted his 30th league goal of 2015. It confirmed the striker’s status as the leading scorer in English football’s top four tiers for last year and also ensured he achieved a feat unrivalled in Hornets history for 55 years. The Nigerian international is the first player to score 30 league goals in a calendar year for Watford since Cliff Holton netted 35 in 1960 and only the fifth to net at least 30 from a January to December period in the club’s history. Frank McPherson tops the list of Watford’s top league scorers in a calendar year with 37 in 41 appearances in 1929, followed by Holton’s 35 in 42 appearances. Fred Pagnam is third with 34 in 43 appearances in 1922, while Ighalo (37 appearances) has matched George James’ (31 appearances) achievement of scoring 30 in 1930. In terms of goals in all competitions, Ighalo is the ninth Watford player to score 30 or more in a calendar year. The Nigerian has a record of 115.5 minutes per goal in the English top-flight this term. 

Ighalo is not just scoring goals for Watford week in week out but he has also turned out to be the team’s money spinner going by the conclusion of Watford’s captain Troy Deeney. Deeney who is also Ighalo’s strike partner noted that the Nigerian staying at the EPL side beyond January is more profitable for Watford as the club will earn £200 million in ‘TV money’, rather than selling the Nigerian for £20/£25 million. 

For now, the most important thing for Ighalo would be to remain cool, calm and collective. He needs to focus on his team and what he is currently doing best. If he keeps this up, the Nigerian surely has a bright future ahead.