Odion Ighalo who has repeated how he loved Manchester United as a Kid. He recounted how he has always spent his lunch money to watch United at the viewing center back in Ajegunle Nigeria where he grew up.
Explaining how the Deadline Day move unfolded, he said: “I was in my hotel room in Shanghai where we were doing pressers and training. Two days before that, I heard some news about Man United and [my agent] called me about it, but I was thinking ‘Man United? I’m in China’ and with the coronavirus and everything, how is it even possible with two days until the end of the transfer window”.
“People started calling me back in Nigeria asking what was going on and I said ‘I don’t want to go crazy about this but if it is God’s will, it’s going to happen.’ So one of my brothers said ‘it’s going to happen, just believe’ and I said ‘I believe but I don’t want to get too carried away so if it didn’t happen, I would get disappointed”.
“I was praying about it but didn’t want to show my emotions and just kept calm. Every time I would text my agent ‘have you heard from them?’ and there was nothing. On the last day of the transfer window, I called my agent and he said he hadn’t heard anything”.
“Then in the evening, I texted my agent and he said Man United were looking at other strikers, your name is still among them but they have not given me anything concrete and I lost hope. I said ‘this isn’t going to happen’ because the last text I had from my agent was 8pm or 9pm in the evening Shanghai time so I went to sleep”.
“Then my phone rang and my agent said ‘it looks like Man United are coming for you, where are you now?’ and I said ‘I’m in my bed, I’m sleeping’ because this is about 11pm there. He said ‘where is the director [of Shanghai Shenhua]?’ and he was in his room. I was already in bed so I got up, tied my towel around my waist and firstly, I went to the translator’s room because the director doesn’t speak English. I said ‘Man United want to speak to [the director], we have to go’. We banged on his door and we started calling him, I think his phone was busy and I was going mad. I was telling my agent I was going to say yes, say that we want to discuss with [United] and the director what is going on. Then [the director] picked up his phone and we connected them with my agent, who was talking with Man United and the people in Shanghai”.
“I didn’t sleep until 6am in the morning because of everything, from paperwork to trying to exchange that to trying to agree the fee. Even my agent was shaking because this is very big for Man United, with all that is going on, they have the trust to bring you in. So it was back and forth with the people working on it and they sent the document I had to sign. Even my contract with Shanghai, I hadn’t signed it yet, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to sign the one with Man United and everything will be OK.”
“When I signed that and my agent said he had received everything OK, I was shaking on my bed, like ‘is this really happening?’. It was a big dream that was finally coming to pass. I didn’t believe my eyes until I landed in the UK, then it was real.I don’t know how to explain it. You dream about it, you watch it, you see these things on TV and now, you’re doing it. It’s crazy, it’s great, I’m happy and I want to keep going because this isn’t finished”.
“Firstly, I achieved this dream of playing for Man United and scoring for them but now there’s even bigger work to work hard, to finish well this season and make sure this team finishes where they’re supposed to be and win trophies hopefully.”