I was offered Osimhen's no 9 jersey to return to Super Eagles - Ighalo
9ja Flavour

I was offered Osimhen’s no 9 jersey to return to Super Eagles – Ighalo

Pinnick, Rohr dragged me back to Super Eagles

Odion Ighalo has revealed that he was offered Victor Osimhen’s number 9 jersey by a top official in bid for them to persuade him to return to the national team.

The 32-year-old who retired in 2019 was forced back into the national team set up against the wish of many Nigerian football lovers and ex footballers.

Ighalo in an interview with ESPN revealed that it was NFF President Amaju Pinnick and coach Gernot Rohr who facilitated his return.

“Since I resigned in 2019, the coach has been in communication with me to come back,” Ighalo said. “Game after game he would call me and ask me when I am coming back. The pressure was a lot.

“I kept telling him I don’t think I want to come back but the pressure was too much and then the NFF President joined in.

“I decided to come back because Coach Rohr was there for me in 2018. I was getting death threats after the World Cup and I said I was not going to play again for Nigeria.

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“He called me and said even the best players in the world miss chances. He told me to forget about what they’re saying, that when I come back and start scoring, the same people will still come back to say good things. He assured me that he trusted me and believes in me.

“He gave me confidence. I needed him then and he was there for me. So now he was calling me, messaging me to come back. He needed me now, would I turn him down? Game after game, he has been asking me. So I said, Okay. If he was there for me, and he needs me now, I have to be there for him too.

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“It is my country. It’s a privilege to play for Nigeria. So it was my decision to come back even though the pressure was a lot and I’m happy I’m back.”

As a sign of his respect for his successor, Ighalo turned down the chance to reclaim the number nine jersey, despite being offered the shirt.

“A top NFF official told me I could have the number nine jersey back and I told him no. I had left it. Osimhen is using it now and coming back, I’m going to play with any jersey number.

“I told them to give me any jersey available. I can play with my bare skin for Nigeria, I’m a patriotic Nigerian. If it means me playing without a shirt in this team, I’m going to play. It’s not the shirt that score the goals.”

Tope Adefala

Tope Adefala is an experienced sports writer, editor, and web designer. A former editor at Sportlineng.com. Talks sports with a great bias for Basketball, Tennis, Field Hockey and Football. Presently the media officer of Nigeria Hockey Federation. I have been in the business of Sports communication and marketing for more than 10 years. Not forgetting that I won West African University Games, Nigeria University Games gold medals. You can find me on Twitter @1topham.

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