Former Manchester United striker, Odion Ighalo has refuted claims that he bribed the officials of the Super Eagles in order to get a call up.
According to him, his mum, pastor and Gernot Rohr influenced his return to the Super Eagles and it had nothing to do with money.ADVERTISEMENT
He stressed that he deems it a privilege to play for Nigeria so he grabbed the opportunity and came to represent the country.
Ighalo opened up about the swirling accusations against him in an interview on NFF TV.
He said: “I’ve been watching the team from afar they’ve been doing well. I’m happy to be back, I’m happy to see the boys again, I’m happy to give them my support whenever the coach need me I’m here and I’m back fully.
“Since the day they announced my retirement. I’ve had so many things in the internet and me I don’t pay attention to whatever negative vibes people say on social media, I’m not that kind of guy that make problem.
“Since 2019 when I retire, the coach had been in communication with me to come back. I told him I don’t think I want to come back but the pressure was too much. Even before I came now the pressure was too much that I had to tell my agent to speak to the NFF president and the coach because when I signed for my club in Saudi Arabia I told them I’m not playing for the national team anymore and to get me released for this match was difficult.
“So, most importantly I’m happy to be back to give my support, the coach spoke to me at length. I heard so many people like a guy in the UK who said I paid my way to the national team, I was just laughing. I have never, even when I was not in this position that I am, in my life and in my career I’ve never paid my way into the national team.
“Before I left the national team I personally called Osimhen and told him ‘this number nine position is for you, if you work hard you will rule Nigeria for long’, and I’m happy seeing him doing well. I’m here to support him, before I came I told the coach Osimhen is the number one striker, I just want to come and support and I try to do that. It was even said that I tried to fight for the number nine jersey, I was just laughing. So many things have been said.
“Before I decided to return, first of all I prayed about it. I spoke to my mum because after the World Cup there was so many things that happened, threat and all that and I said I’m not going back.”
“Like I said I prayed about it, I talked to my mum, talked to my pastor about it and he asked if I want to go and I said of course, it’s my country it’s a privilege to play for Nigeria. Nobody is going to turn down an invitation to play for Nigeria but the circumstances back then. And my mum said to me ‘my son if you want to go I give you my blessing go God will protect you and guide you’. So I made the decision to come back and I’m happy I’m back.”