Odion Ighalo

Odion Jude Ighalo (born 16 June 1989 is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a striker[4] for Chinese club Shanghai Greenland Shenhua.

Odion Ighalo
Ighalo playing for Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup
Personal information
Full name Odion Jude Ighalo[1][2]
Date of birth (1989-06-16) 16 June 1989
Place of birth Lagos, Nigeria
Height 2.01 m (6 ft 7 in)[3]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Shanghai Shenhua
Number 9
Youth career
2000–2005 Prime
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2005 Prime 5 (0)
2006 Julius Berger 10 (5)
2007–2008 Lyn 20 (9)
2008–2014 Udinese 6 (1)
2009–2010Granada (loan) 26 (16)
2010–2011Cesena (loan) 3 (0)
2011–2014Granada (loan) 95 (17)
2014Watford (loan) 8 (3)
2014–2017 Watford 82 (33)
2017–2018 Changchun Yatai 55 (36)
2019– Shanghai Shenhua 12 (7)
National team
2009 Nigeria U20 3 (0)
2015–2019 Nigeria 35 (16)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 21 September 2019

After starting his career at Prime and Julius Berger, he moved to Norway's Lyn in 2007. A year later he was signed by Udinese, spending most of his tenure loaned out, notably at Granada, before signing for Watford in 2014. He also competed professionally in China, with Changchun Yatai and Shanghai Greenland Shenhua.

Ighalo made his debut for Nigeria in 2015. He represented the nation at the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, finishing the latter tournament in third place and being crowned top scorer.[5]

Club career

Early years / Lyn

Born in Lagos and raised in Edo,[6] Ighalo played in his country with Prime and Julius Berger, where he was discovered by FIFA agent Marcelo Houseman who recommended him to Atta Aneke, being subsequently taken on trial by Norway's Lyn.

He made his Tippeligaen debut on 16 September 2007 at the age of just 18, 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.[7]

Udinese / Granada

On 30 July 2008, Ighalo signed for Udinese in Italy, moving alongside teammate Jo Inge Berget and agreeing to a five-year contract.[8] He appeared rarely in Serie A in his debut season, scoring against Cagliari in a 6–2 home routing [9] four of his five league appearances came as a late substitute.

Ighalo was loaned to Granada in summer 2009, as part of the partnership agreement between Udinese and the Spaniards.[10][11][12] He scored 17 times in his first year (playoffs included)[13] and five in the second, as both seasons ended in promotion;[14][15] this was interspersed with a brief loan stint back in Italy, with Cesena.[16]

Ighalo continued playing with Granada in the following years, still owned by the Udine side.[17][18] He played his first La Liga match on 27 August 2011, starting and playing the full 90 minutes in a 0–1 home loss to Real Betis.[19]


Ighalo joined Watford on a season-long loan deal from Udinese, on 29 July 2014.[20] He made his debut for the English club in the first round of the Football League Cup at Stevenage on 12 August,[21] and scored his first goal in the Championship against Brentford on 30 September by tucking the ball home after his initial penalty was saved by David Button, in a 2–1 home win.[22][23]

On 24 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.[24] Exactly three months later, he scored four second-half goals and was voted Man of the match in a 7–2 home routing of Blackpool, who led 0–2 at half time;[25] he took his league tally to 14 on 10 February 2015, after netting a brace to help his team come from behind at Brentford to win it 2–1 – his second came through an injury time header.[26]

Ighalo scored in his Premier League debut on 8 August 2015, replacing José Manuel Jurado 16 minutes from time and putting the visitors ahead 2–1 in an eventual 2–2 draw away against Everton for the season opener.[27] He netted twice in a 2–0 home win over West Ham United on 31 October, reaching seven goals for the season and becoming the highest club scorer in the competition after just 11 matches.[28]

On 20 December 2015, Ighalo scored in a Watford victory for the fourth consecutive time, netting a brace in a 3–0 win over Liverpool.[29] His five-goal haul earned him December's Premier League Player of the Month, while his manager Quique Sánchez Flores won the equivalent award.[30]

Ighalo broke a 599-minute personal scoring drought on 13 March 2016, with a goal in a 2–1 win at holders Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, putting the Hornets into the last four for the first time in nine years.[31] On 12 August he signed a new five-year contract[32] but, the following season, he scored just one league goal and did not find the net in any of his last 15 games.[33]

Changchun Yatai

On 31 January 2017, Ighalo joined Chinese Super League club Changchun Yatai for a reported £20 million.[33] He ranked second in the scoring charts in his second season at 21, but his team suffered relegation.[34][35]

Shanghai Shenhua

Ighalo transferred to Shanghai Greenland Shenhua on 14 February 2019.[36][37] In March, he said he turned down a move to Barcelona the previous month.[38]

International career

On 24 March 2015, after a series of strong performances for Watford, newly appointed Nigeria interim coach Daniel Amokachi selected Ighalo for the first time, and the latter stated, "I feel good because it is my dream to play for my country".[39] He won his first cap two days later, starting in a 0–1 friendly home loss to Uganda.[40]

Ighalo was initially named as one of three overage players in Nigeria's squad for the 2016 Olympic tournament, but he eventually did not make the trip to Brazil.[41] In June 2018, he was named in the 23-man squad for the upcoming edition of the FIFA World Cup in Russia,[42] making his first appearance in the competition by playing 73 minutes in the 0–2 group stage defeat against Croatia;[43] in October, he revealed that his family had received death threats after he failed to score in the tournament.[44]

Ighalo scored seven goals in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign, the most by any player, to help Nigeria qualify for the finals in Egypt later that year.[45] He was included in Gernot Rohr's squad,[46] taking part in all the matches and finding the net against Burundi in the group phase (1–0),[47] Cameroon in the round of 16 (3–2 win),[48] Algeria in the semi-finals (1–2 loss)[49] and Tunisia in the third-place playoff (1–0);[50] at the end of the competition, he announced his retirement from the international scene.[51]

Personal life

Ighalo is known to be a devout Christian,[1] who also often dedicates part of his wages for Nigerian charitable organisations to help impoverished children, schools and widows below the poverty line.[52]

Career statistics


As of match played 21 September 2019[53]
Club Season League Cup League Cup Continental Other Total
Prime 2005[54] Nigeria National League 500050
Julius Berger 2006[54] Nigeria Premier League 10500105
Lyn 2007[54] Tippeligaen 730073
2008[54] Tippeligaen 13600136
Total 20900209
Udinese 2008–09[54] Serie A 610061
Granada (loan) 2009–10[54] Segunda División B 2616002616
Cesena (loan) 2010–11[53] Serie A 301040
Granada (loan) 2010–11[53] Segunda División 25500255
2011–12[53] La Liga 30610316
2012–13[53] La Liga 28421305
2013–14[53] La Liga 16222184
Total 125335313036
Watford 2014–15[53] Championship 352010203820
2015–16[53] Premier League 371552004217
2016–17[53] Premier League 1810011192
Total 903662319939
Changchun Yatai 2017[53] Chinese Super League 2715002715
2018[53] Chinese Super League 2821002821
Total 5536005536
Shanghai Shenhua 2019[53] Chinese Super League 12700127
Career total 325127125310000341133




International goals

(Nigeria score listed first, score column indicates score after each Ighalo goal)[54]

International goals by date, venue, cap, opponent, score, result and competition
No. Date Venue Cap Opponent Score Result Competition
1 13 June 2015Ahmadu Bello, Kaduna, Nigeria3 Chad2–02–02017 Africa Cup of Nations - qualification
2 11 October 2015Edmond Machtens, Brussels, Belgium5 Cameroon3–03–0Friendly
3 31 May 2016Josy Barthel, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg11 Luxembourg3–13–1
4 1 September 2017Godswill Akpabio, Uyo, Nigeria13 Cameroon1–04–02018 FIFA World Cup - qualification
5 8 September 2018Stade Linité, Victoria, Seychelles23 Seychelles3–03–02019 Africa Cup of Nations - qualification
6 13 October 2018Ahmadu Bello, Kaduna, Nigeria24 Libya1–04–0
7 2–0
8 3–0
9 16 October 2018Taïeb Mhiri, Sfax, Tunisia251–03–2
10 3–2
11 22 March 2019Stephen Keshi, Asaba, Nigeria26 Seychelles1–03–1
12 22 June 2019Alexandria Stadium, Alexandria, Egypt29 Burundi1–01–02019 Africa Cup of Nations - Group B
13 6 July 201932 Cameroon1–03–22019 Africa Cup of Nations - knockout stage
14 2–2
15 14 July 2019International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt34 Algeria1–11–2
16 17 July 2019Al Salam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt35 Tunisia1–01–0


Shanghai Shenhua




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