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  • Watford star explains goal celebration

Super Eagles and Watford rave of the moment, Jude Odion Ighalo, has disclosed that
former national team captain, Nwankwo Kanu, is one of his idols.

The Nigerian international, who was honoured last weekend by former club, Granada, as Special Guest in the 2-1 defeat by Real Madrid at Los Cármenes, Granada, revealed that after scoring two goals against Liverpool late last year, he was contacted by Kanu.

“He texted me to tell me what a great job I was doing, and told me to keep going, working hard,” Ighalo said. “This is a guy I used to watch playing for Arsenal when I was so little,back in Nigeria.

“He is one of my idols. It is a great honour to have people like that, who I used to look up to, encourage me and send me a text when I score a goal and tell me to keep pushing. He lives in London. We spoke the other day. He’s going to come and watch one of my games soon,” he added.

Interestingly, Ighalo left Nigeria for Norway at the age of 18, having impressed scouts of Lyn at a trial. A year later, he signed for Udinese —one of the three clubs owned by the Pozzo family, but appeared only six times in Serie A in six years

There were two loan spells at the other Pozzo club Granada, a brief one at Cesena before he joined Pozzo’s Watford, initially on loan, before making it a permanent transfer in October 2014. He is one of only two players to appear for all three Pozzo-owned clubs. With 14 Premier League goals this season, he represents another triumph for the Italian family’s global scouting network.

His ‘Iggy Scoop’ dribbling manoeuvre, where he feints to go one way, but then drags the ball in the opposite direction, has delighted fans and bamboozled defenders, while his goal celebration has become an enduring image of the season.

He said, “I am a Christian and I believe so much in God,” said Ighalo. “I’m not perfect. I have my flaws. I am human. Only God is perfect. I try to acknowledge him in my life. Whatever I am now and what I am going to be is through God.

“I want to return the glory to him when I score goals, and that’s why I go down on my knees, point my hands to the sky and say this goal is dedicated to you. I believe he gave me the strength to score the goals. I don’t care what anyone says about that. I don’t think anything in life will ever stop me believing in God.”

As for the ‘Iggy Scoop’, he said, “Kanu used to do this at Arsenal. It’s not one of my own, but I’ve been doing it for a long time. I scored a few goals with it in Norway.”

Watford are ninth, in need of only seven more points to hit the survival target of 40 points. It is 29 years since Watford survived a campaign in the top flight. “I can see this club doing great. We have talents in the team and Gino Pozzo is an intelligent guy, working to make sure everything is perfect. You see him at the training ground every day, working to put in new facilities. He wants to establish this team in the Premier League. It’s an exciting project,” Ighalo summed up.

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