‘I promised I would dedicate every goal I scored’: Odion Ighalo pays tribute to Manchester United-supporting sister with first goal for the club after she tragically died in December
- Odion Ighalo admitted his first Manchester United goal was tinged with sadness
- The striker paid tribute to his late sister Mary, who passed away in December
- Ighalo celebrated by lifting his jersey to show a T-shirt with a photo of Mary on it
- The 30-year-old revealed his delight at playing under idol Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Odion Ighalo savoured his first goal for Manchester United but admitted it was tinged with sadness because his late sister Mary was not alive to see him score it.
The Nigerian striker made his first start against Club Bruges in the Europa League on Thursday night since joining United on loan until the end of the season from Shanghai Shenhua, and marked the occasion by scoring the second goal in a 5-0 win at Old Trafford.
Ighalo, 30, celebrated by pulling up his jersey to reveal a T-shirt with a tribute to his sister who passed away in December.
Odion Ighalo revealed his maiden strike for Manchester United was tinged with sadness
The 30-year-old netted against Club Bruge on Thursday and paid tribute to his late sister Mary
The boyhood United fan said: ‘She is a Man United fan. We prayed for this moment to play for United, and unfortunately she is not here to see me doing that.
‘I promised I would dedicate every goal I scored. I’m happy that I did that and wherever she is, she is happy that I’m doing that and she is doing great.
‘This is what I dreamt of. I dreamt of playing for United and scoring my first goal. I’m very happy for that. It feels great. Old Trafford, hearing the fans singing my name, screaming for me. I’m very grateful. I waited for this moment and it’s a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.
‘I’m happy because I know a lot of United supporters are waiting for this moment to get my first goal. I’ve not seen my phone yet, but I know messages have been coming in so I want to thank everyone that supported me.
Mary Atole died at the age of 43 after collapsing at her home in Canada on December 12
Ighalo has her name etched on to his boots and now also dons a white undershirt to pay tribute
‘They see me as one of their own because I supported United from a young age and I want to give my best to do whatever it takes to move forward.
‘They appreciate that and I appreciated them from the first day I stepped on the field in Manchester. They have been behind me and I hope it continues like that. I promise them I will give my best – win, lose, I don’t care about the circumstances.’
Ighalo joined United on the last day of the January transfer window in a surprise loan deal. Because he had arrived from China, he couldn’t travel to the club’s warm-weather training camp in Marbella or even train at Carrington due to the coronavirus alert.
But the 30-year-old former Watford striker believes he is slowly regaining full fitness after working with a personal trainer in Manchester.
The frontman believes he is slowly regaining full fitness after working with a personal trainer
‘I’m getting better,’ added Ighalo. ‘I know I’m not 100 per cent fit. The last game I played was December 6. That’s when I played in the Chinese League, in the FA Cup final in China.
‘So I’m getting there bit by bit. The league is faster, stronger, and you need more strength. I’m getting better every day, but I’m not 100 per cent fit.’
Ighalo is relishing the opportunity to help turn United’s fortunes around after admitting that the problems at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 have made him ‘angry’.
Asked if manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was his hero when he was younger, Ighalo said: ‘Yes I watched him. I watched a lot of them – Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Ole, Teddy Sheringham – when I was young.
Ighalo revealed delight at playing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who he watched as a youngster
‘Playing for him now is great for me. I’m very happy. I’m just one of the team and we have to work together as a team. I am here to contribute whatever it takes to move the team forward.
‘There is transition in life in everything you do. So it’s difficult sometimes when the team is losing games. As a fan you get angry.
‘Now I’m in the club, I have to give my best to make sure we try to win and get results. Some games are going to be difficult because some big teams are spending more money in the Premier League and Europe.
‘It is going to be more difficult, but we have young players and working this way I think we have a better future.’
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