Nigeria has paraded some of the world’s most exciting and influential attacking midfielders. Among the top of them is the once Mercurial Midfield Maestro, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, whose retirement opened creating a big hole at the heart of the Super Eagles midfield that no player has been able to comfortably handle ever since.
We have had players like John Mikel Obi, Ramon Azeez, and Nosa Igiebor attempt to be masters in that position without any promising results. However, there seems to be someone who has been overlooked; Kelechi Iheanacho.
Kelechi Iheanacho (born 3 October 1996) is a Nigerian footballer who plays for English club Manchester City as an attacking Midfielder. He won the Golden Ball as part of the victorious Nigeria team at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. He scored six goals during the tournament, celebrating each with the “Yes” celebration popularised by WWE champion Daniel Bryan.
He made his debut for Manchester City in their 2014 pre-season tour of the United States, scoring two goals in their first two games. The club are looking to get him a work permit, but such a permit cannot be granted for a footballer under the age of 18.
His progress and promise currently surpasses his predecessors’, which has made his current city coach brand him “the Player of the Future for Mancity”.
Paul Handler of the Manchester Evening News writes: “On first look, Kelechi Iheanacho looks like a great prospect.
“He was a livewire up front against Sporting KC in City’s first tour match and looks quick and mobile, pulling the home defenders all over the place.
“He certainly doesn’t lack confidence, firing off a couple of powerful first half shots from his left-foot.”
Given the current snob by Keshi from the Super Eagles matches, it will be difficult for the young star to get a work permit in the UK which makes his position in the club more complicated.
Nigeria might still be on a wild goose chase trying to replace Jay Jay, but it remains to be seen if Iheanacho will follow the paths of Mikel and others in settling for a more quiet role instead of the classic 10.