Death Threats Almost Forced My Retirement, Says Ighalo

Super Eagles striker, Odion Ighalo, whose goals helped Nigeria to back-to-back victories over Libya in their African Nations Cup qualifying matches, has revealed that he almost quit international football following death threats made to his family.

The 29-year-old China-based star became Nigerians’ favourite footballer following his five goals in the two matches against Libya. Ighalo bagged a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over the North Africans before netting a brace in the reverse fixture – that ended 3-2 in Nigeria’s favour – to fire his country to the cusp of qualification for next year’s showpiece.

The former Watford forward, though, has revealed that he considered quitting national team following threats made to his family after Nigeria’s 2018 FIFA World Cup exit.“I know the fans want me to score goals. I understand them. But some of them took it to another level,” he told KweseESPN.

“They said a lot of things. To my innocent kids, to my wife, even to the extent they threatened my life and the life of my family.“I felt very bad (when they threatened my family). I had to talk to my wife because she could not take it. Some words they said about my kids, about me. Some words they said to her, threatening and all that. That is beyond football.

“My wife said ‘you don’t have to go there (to Nigeria) any more’ and it was because of all what they said to her and to our family.”He credited Rohr for trusting him again and helping to rescind his decision to quit the national team.“I want to thank Rohr because after the World Cup and all those things happened, he called me before the Seychelles game [in September] and I told him I was contemplating stopping because it is not easy,” he continued.

“But the coach had belief in me. He said ‘I know you are a good goal scorer and I know you can do it. Come and show them that you can score.’“If a coach believes in me, then I will come. I told him ‘coach, if I am in your plans hundred percent then I will honour the invitation any time you call me.’

“He said ‘yes, you are in my plans for the games’. Then he said ‘don’t be under pressure, just go do your thing, I know you can do it.’ “That gave me the confidence which I believed that I needed. I want to thank him for defending me, and giving me the words like a father, encouraging me, talking to me. He gave me more belief and I thank God for repaying him with these goals.”

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