LifeBogger presents the Full Story of a Nigerian football Forward best known by the Nicknames; ‘Senior Man and Kel’.
Our version of Kelechi Iheanacho’s Biography and Childhood Story brings you a full account of notable events from his childhood time to date.
The analysis of the Nigerian striker involves his life story before fame, family life and many OFF and ON-Pitch little-known facts about him.
Whenever the name Kelechi Iheanacho is mentioned in football circles, people visualise a Baler who was fortunate to find himself in the soccer hall of fame at a very young age.
Now, without further ado, let us begin.
Kelechi Iheanacho Childhood Story – Early Life and Family Background:
For Biography starters, Kelechi Ihenacho was born on the 3rd day of October 1996 in the town of Obogwe in the state of Imo, Nigeria by Elder James Ihenacho (Father) and the Late Mercy Ihenacho (mother).
He was the last son and third child out of a family of 4 children (His parents gave birth to 3 Boys and a Girl).
Starting off, Kelechi played football every day with his two brothers and friends in the street and in his school.
Football was all he ever wanted to do as a kid. Kelechi’s elder brothers also played football and were quite good, but weren’t as determined as their little brother was.
At some point, they provided him with all the assistance he needed after observing it was his destiny. Iheanacho was not just as intelligent as a little footballer.
He was also among the top three best pupils in his class during his days at Nursery and Primary school.
Initially, his academic performance was something his parents loved more than the fact that he could kick football very well.
The Struggle to Watch Premier League Games:
Iheanacho’s family thou had a TV but would not access the Premier League games back then when he was still very young. This is a general problem in Nigeria.
The only means to see the games was to pay the sum of 20 cents to football viewing centres scattered across the country.
Kelechi could not afford such monies at all times. On some occasions, he would be chased away if he couldn’t afford monies needed to watch these live games. Back then, he was a confirmed Chelsea Fan.
As Kelechi Ihenacho puts it, “I had to beg to watch the EPL as a child because, at some point, I couldn’t afford the N50 (20 pens) gate fee at the viewing centre close to my house.
When such an occasion comes, I would sometimes sneak into viewing centres or beg my way in just to have a glimpse of the action.
There was no way my parent would have to afford monies to subscribe to DSTV, which shows the Premier League,“- He revealed.
A MESSAGE FOR THE FRIENDS WHO CHASED HIM WHEN HE HAD NO MONEY TO WATCH FOOTBALL—“Little did they know he would be the one they would be watching on the screen just a few years later.”
The Quest to get out of Poverty:
Did you know?… Kelechi Iheanacho needed to come out of poverty and found soccer as the only option that could drive him to greatness.
He only hoped for one thing. Convincing his parents (notably his dad) to accept and sponsor his dreams and leave the fact that ‘Having Education was the only key to success’.
This, unfortunately, didn’t go well as they disagreed severely. At some point, he stood his ground as the head of the home and warned his last son never to bring up any issue of football in his house. He urged him to concentrate only on his studies.
On a few occasions, his parents would flog him for going to play football in the evenings instead of reading his books and doing his assignments.
According to Kelechi, …” Both my dad and mum didn’t want me to play football on a full-time basis.
They told me the chances of making it big was slim, and it would be a waste of time if it ends up becoming a fruitless pursuit as it does for many Nigerian youths.
They wanted me to concentrate only on my studies and get a good education.
Because of this, I had limited time to play football and could only play more at school. Sometimes I would go far away from home to play football in the evenings so they don’t see me.
A miracle happened on a faithful day. My dad changed his mind when my school teacher came to my house to tell him I had been selected to represent the school team in a state competition. He approved me to represent the school.
That was the only and last opportunity I would get from him to prove to myself that I could make it in football. I played in the competition like my life depended on it.
Kelechi Ihenacho’s team won the state competition, and he became the most promising youth footballer in his state. This made his father very proud and marked a turning point to the positive start of his career.
Journey to Greatness:
Kelechi Ihenacho’s dad accepted his decision to pursue football and started supporting him as soon as he learned his son won the golden ball award, medals and several incentives from the state commissioner of sports.
This award was handed over to him by his school sports teacher as seen in the picture. It’s an award for being the star of the state schools competition tournament after much hard work.
Upon being convinced and observing, he would make a breakthrough in life through football. Elder James Ihenacho (His Father) quickly register his son at the best football academy in the state.
It didn’t take long before his son got registered at the Lagos state branch of Taiye Football Academy at Owere, the capital city of Imo State, Eastern Nigeria.
This time it was all about the national football competition which is held in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Kelechi, who played for the Imo state, was known to be their captain.
He led the team to victories in several national competitions. He gained national recognition when he single-handedly led his state team to win a major national youth tournament in Abuja, the home of the Nigeria football federation.
Since then, all local scouts started keeping their watchful eyes on the young lad. Again, it didn’t take long before he got selected to represent Nigeria on their U14 Level.
Continued success saw him progress to the U17 level, where he unleashed his talent to the world.
Kelechi Iheanacho Bio – The BIG Turning Point:
His first major international tournament was the 2013 African U-17 Championship in Morocco, where he bagged a hat-trick against Botswana.
He dedicated his goals at the 2013 African U-17 Championship in Morocco to his mother, who passed away two months before the tournament.
Kelechi Ihenacho became the hottest teenage footballer in the world after being voted as the Adidas Golden Ball Award winner at the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup. Taiwo Awoniyi also performed well in that tournament.
His performances led to interest from clubs in Europe; teams that followed his progress included Arsenal, Manchester City, Sporting Clube de Portugal and Porto.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) named him the Most Promising Talent of the Year for 2013 at the CAF Awards.
The Journey to the Premier League:
He was close to going to the Portuguese side of Porto until his father, James, told him he would have a brighter future at the Etihad Stadium.
According to him, “I had played a few games at the Under-17 World Cup finals, and that’s when I agreed with a deal with City.
In all honesty, I didn’t know that much about the club at the time. I was close to signing for FC Porto where I really wanted to go.
I didn’t believe I’d have a future at Manchester City. But my father did believe and gave me the confidence I needed. I’m happy I took his advice.”
He added: ‘I first heard of City’s interest when I was with Nigeria for the World Under-17 qualifiers,” he said. “When we finished the qualification process, I had a few scouts approaching me and telling me I had quite a few clubs interested in signing me.
I was so happy and wished I could sign for them all. I was really enjoying my football at that time.”
It was Manchester City who clinched a deal to sign him when he reached his 18th birthday.
Asides from monies paid to Taiye Football Academy in Nigeria, his dad was paid a whopping 300,000 pounds (142 Million Nigerian Naira) for his son as promised by scouts from the rich club.
As I update Kelechi Iheanacho’s Bio, the Naija striker has achieved a meteoric rise in his career.
From the Nigerian national side, there exists a solid forward partnership between him and Paul Onuachu, Moses Simon, and Samuel Chukwueze. From the club perspective, he enjoys a solid partnership with Patson Daka and Jamie Vardy. The rest of his Bio is how history.
Kelechi Iheanacho Family Life:
His father, Elder James Ihenacho, is a trader who once traded in building materials in Owere, the Nigerian capital city of Imo state. He is now his son’s agent and manager.
He is someone who once believed in education and has always wanted it for his children before they joined him in the line of trade.
Before his son excelled in football, Elder James operated a lower-middle-class or poor family. Today, he is rich and now belongs to the first-class citizens of the country, all thanks to God using his football to save his family.
He is the top decision-maker when it comes to managing his son and shaping his son’s career path. Ihenacho’s decision to join Leicester City on a transfer and not on loan was a decision made by his dad.
In his words…“He will stay at Manchester City under Pep. I have told him not to agree on any plans they’ll make to send him out on loan.
This was not what I agreed with them when they signed my son. It’s either he keeps competing with high-profile strikers like Aguero in the club, or they sell him to another club.”
Elder James Iheanacho told in an interview with African Football before his son’s transfer to Leicester.
Lots have been known about his dad but little of his mum. This is because she is Late.
Mrs Mercy Ihenacho (mother of Kelechi Ihenacho) died after a brief illness. Kelechi Ihenaco’s Mum died when her son was 14 years old. The death of the 43-year-old mother of 4 was a huge shock to her family when the news broke.
Reacting to the news, the footballer said;
Kelechi cried loudly after head coach, Manu Garba (MFR) in the company of other officials, broke the news to him.
Why has this happened to me? Oh God, Why me? … Why now?..
My mother did so much for us, especially me, and I’m so sad about this.
I spoke with her last week Sunday, and I was happy that she was okay; please don’t tell me she is dead!”
Kelechi Iheanacho has described the death of his mother as a huge loss to him.
He dedicated his goals at the 2013 African U-17 Championship in Morocco to his mother, who passed away two months before the tournament.
Who is Kelechi Iheanacho’s Wife?
The one-time highest-paid footballer in Nigeria has been shed out from ladies.
Without a doubt, Kelechi Ihenacho would love to move with a lady who can represent his personality in the world of show business.
He is likely to be in a relationship, at the time of writing this Bio, but is yet to make the identity of his girl or girls public.
Kelechi Iheanacho Girlfriend Possibilities:
The fact is that whoever the Nigerian Striker is dating will most likely fall into the category of a popular personality in society. Here are the four classes of girls Iheanacho might likely date;
1. An actress: Just like Super Eagles striker Ike Uche and Nollywood actress Uche Jombo dated for a while, the young lad might be weighing his options in casting his net into the sea of Nigerian movie industry ladies, especially in this era where celebrities find it interesting dating each other.
2. A billionaire’s daughter: Success. They say has many parents, that is why everyone will like to associate with it.
So if he is considering marriage, a wealthy man’s daughter is one of the top options that come to mind. This is the case of Mikel Obi and Olga Diyachenko.
Mikel Obi is dating Olga Diyachenko, the daughter of a Russian billionaire, and Iheanacho might look the way of Dj Cuppy, Femi Otedola’s daughter.
3. A Beauty Queen: Iheanacho could also follow the lead of former Super Eagles captain Joseph Yobo who put the ring on the finger of former Miss Nigeria Adaeze Yobo and both have blossomed ever since.
The beauty queens in Nigeria will never say no to a player of Iheancho status in the footballing world.
4. A baby Mama: Not many footballers might like the idea of getting married but could fancy the possibility of having a baby mama who would do anything for them to carry their baby.
Mario Balotelli’s sister had a fling with Super Eagles striker Obafemi Martins and they had a child together. Iheanacho might think there is no sin in putting another footballer’s sister in the family way.
Kelechi Iheanacho Biography Facts – Minute Per Goal Record:
With 14 goals in 35 appearances on his maiden season in England, Iheanacho ended 2015/16 with the best goals-per-minute ratio of any player in the Premier League, averaging a goal every 93.9 minutes.
Emulating His Mentor:
Iheanacho is following in Nwankwo Kanu’s footsteps in the Premier League. He is now the biggest football product of Owerri – the southern Nigerian city and the home of former Premier League striker Nwankwo Kanu.
Iheanacho hopes his career can act as inspiration to those who find themselves in similarly humble beginnings he grew up in.
Kelechi Iheanacho Biography Facts – Early Life at Man City:
Iheanacho joined Manchester City’s Academy on 10 January 2014. Before the 2014–15 season, City visited the United States on a pre-season tour, and although still not formally a City player, he joined up with the squad.
He played and scored in the first match of the tour, a 4–1 win against Sporting Kansas City, and scored again against Milan in a 5–1 win. After the conclusion of the tour, Manchester City arranged for Iheanacho to become part of the first team.
His consistency and goal-poaching instinct has forced him to claim a first-team shirt ahead of established midfield players like Samir Nasri, whose nagging injury woes has continued for some time now.
In fact, many believed that the likes of Edin Dzeko were offloaded to pave the way for youthful talents like him a chance for the future.
Iheanacho’s first career hat-trick came in a dominant 4-0 Emirates FA Cup victory at Aston Villa the following January, prompting boss Manuel Pellegrini to sing his “very, very talented” striker’s praises at full-time.
His success at Manchester City made Leicester give him a permanent place and a suitable shirt number in their squad.
Kelechi Iheanacho Friends in Nigeria – Rewarding Friends Who Stood By Him:
Known to be receiving over 40 million Nigerian Naira per week salary, one thing is certain. His Nigerian friends demanded that Kel must do one thing;
‘He must Pay Homage to People who saw him through back in his homeland’.
Kelechi has indeed paid his dues. He packages mansion houses in Lagos to reward friends for their support and friendship to him when he was nothing.
The picture below shows his best friends in Nigeria having a visit to the Imo Government house. Here, they met with the Governor of Imo State, Nigeria, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha.
The giant leap of Kel, as his friends fondly call him, from the grassroots to the premier league has continued to elicit hope from young struggling footballers across Africa. According to Kelechi,…
“I hope I can show them that they can do anything. Whenever I go back home to Nigeria now, I always bring a bag full of Manchester City shirts for the kids.
If you go to Owerri now, you will see a lot of children playing in the streets, wearing blue. Nigeria has a lot of Premier League fans, and they’re going to have more every time I go home.”
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