Vardy In­spired Me to be a Bet­ter Player, Says Iheana­cho

THISDAY - - SPORTSXTRA -

Su­per Ea­gles striker, Kelechi Iheana­cho has said that he de­rived in­spi­ra­tion from the story of Jamie Vardy just as he ad­mit­ted that his Le­ices­ter City team-mate has given him the mo­ti­va­tion to be­come a bet­ter player.

The 22-year-old watched in awe as Vardy broke the record for scor­ing in con­sec­u­tive Premier League games in 2015 when he found the net in 11 games straight and Iheana­cho said he is now try­ing to learn from the Eng­land striker af­ter join­ing City from Manch­ester City.

“I have been watch­ing him and when I was at Manch­ester City I was re­ally fol­low­ing him and when he broke the record against Manch­ester United, it was the mo­ti­va­tion for me as well,” said Iheana­cho.

“So see­ing him scor­ing 11 games straight, it gives ev­ery young­ster mo­ti­va­tion to know any­thing is pos­si­ble in foot­ball.

“I have been watch­ing him since. I didn’t know I am go­ing to come here so play­ing along­side him is a joy and I am happy learn­ing from him and keep im­prov­ing,” he added.

Vardy’s rags to riches story is well known but Iheana­cho’s hum­ble be­gin­nings in Nige­ria makes his emer­gence even more re­mark­able, es­pe­cially as he ad­mits he hardly ever got to watch foot­ball grow­ing up.

While the adults were watch­ing at com­mu­nal screenings, Iheana­cho was off prac­tis­ing his skills so one day they would be watch­ing him.

“When I was grow­ing up I don’t have the chance to watch a lot of foot­ball be­cause I can’t af­ford to watch foot­ball,” he re­vealed.

“The view­ing cen­tre was a place you go to watch foot­ball in Nige­ria but you have to pay to watch foot­ball at a view­ing cen­tre, so if you don’t have the means or the money to pay, you can’t watch.

“The gen­er­a­tors make a big telly and peo­ple gather to watch tele­vi­sion and have ar­gu­ment about things and life and ev­ery­thing, so it is a very in­ter­est­ing place.

“I couldn’t af­ford to pay to watch them. You have to pay to watch it so I didn’t have the chance, the op­por­tu­nity to watch as much, the Premier League. It was ex­pen­sive then and I didn’t have that much chance to watch.

“I watched a lit­tle bit maybe im­por­tant games I could save money and watch them, so I think I watch a bit of Ser­gio Aguero and Yaya Toure, Wayne Rooney and Di­dier Drogba when I was back home in Nige­ria.

“So many didn’t get the op­por­tu­nity to watch it as well as me, so I just kick the ball and I just kick the ball and keep hop­ing that is what I do and if I get the op­por­tu­nity to watch the game, if they al­low me then I go but I have to fundraise but I get 10 per cent of the fundrais­ing to watch the game.”

Now they are watch­ing Iheana­cho in the view­ing cen­tres and the young striker hopes see­ing him on the big screen will make his coun­try­men proud.

“I think I have made them proud and I have to keep do­ing it,” he added.

“I don’t have to stop. I have to keep do­ing it and the strug­gle con­tin­ues. They are be­fore me and they are proud and I will keep do­ing them proud.”

Iheana­cho gets in­spi­ra­tion from Vardy

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