Odion Jude Ighalo popularly known as Ighalo is a famous Nigerian professional football player, entrepreneur and a philanthropist, who currently plays as a forward striker for Chinese club Changchun Yatai and the Nigerian national team Super Eagles. He is currently one of the best and most outstanding players in Nigeria and also one of the most successful footballers in Africa.
He was born on 16th June 1989 in Lagos State in the south western part of Nigeria and raised in Edo State in the south southern part of Nigeria. He is currently 29 years old. His current jersey number is 9.
Ighalo was born in Lagos State and raised in Edo State, where he was discovered by FIFA agent Marcelo Houseman who recommended him to Atta Aneke, after which he was taken on trial by Norway’s Lyn.
On 16th September 2007, at the age of 18 years old, Ighalo made his debut at Tippeligaen, scoring in a 2–0 home win against Viking. He scored six goals in 13 matches in his second year to help his team to the seventh position, and subsequently arose interest from other clubs in the country, with Brann reporting Lyn to the Football Association of Norway for unfairness in the negotiation process.
After starting his football career at Prime and Julius Berger, Ighalo moved to Norway’s Lyn in 2007. A year later, Ighalo was signed by Udinese and spend most of his tenure loaned out, notably at Granada, before signing for Watford in 2014. He also competed professionally in China, with Changchun Yatai.
On 30th July 2008, Ighalo signed for Udinese in Italy, and agreed to a five-year contract. He appeared rarely in Serie A in his debut season, scoring against Cagliari in a 6-2 home wining. While playing for Udinese, four of his five league appearances came as a late substitute.
In the summer of 2009, Ighalo was loaned to Granada as part of the partnership agreement between Udinese and the Spaniards. While in Granada, he scored 17 times in his first year and scored 5 times in his second year, as both seasons ended in promotion.
Ighalo continued playing with Granada in the following years, still owned by the Udine side. He played his first La Liga match on 27th August 2011, starting and playing the full 90 minutes in a 0–1 home loss to Real Betis.
On 29th July 2014, Ighalo joined Watford on a season-long loan deal from Udinese. He made his debut for the English club in the first round of the Football League Cup at Stevenage on 12th August 2014 and scored his first goal in the Championship against Brentford on 30th September 2014 by tucking the ball home after his initial penalty was saved by David Button in a 2-1 home win.
On 24th October 2014, Watford terminated Ighalo’s loan and re-signed him on a permanent deal the same day after Udinese released him from his contract. On 31st January 2017, Ighalo joined Chinese Super League club “Changchun Yatai” for a reported fee worth £20 million.
On 24th March 2015, after a series of strong performances for Watford, newly appointed Nigeria interim coach Daniel Amokachi selected Ighalo for the first time, to play for the Nigeria national team (Super Eagles). He gained his first cap two days later, starting in a 0–1 friendly home loss to Uganda.
In 2016, he was named as one of the three overage players in Nigeria’s squad for the 2016 Olympic tournament in Brazil. In June 2018, he was named in the 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, making his first appearance in the competition by playing 73 minutes in the 0–2 group stage defeat against Croatia.
Ighalo is known to be a devout Christian. He is also a philanthropist and a humanitarian, who often dedicates most of his wages for Nigerian charitable organizations to help impoverish children, schools and widows below the poverty line. Ighalo is currently married to his beautiful wife Sonia and the marriage is blessed with beautiful kids.
Odion Ighalo is currently one of the richest and most influential football player in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $20 million.