Super Eagles striker, Odion Ighalo, has admitted that he almost left the national team after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Ighalo scored five goals against Libya as Nigeria won 4-0 in Uyo last weekend and 3-2 in Sfax on Tuesday night, in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series.
However, it has emerged that he would have dumped the former African champions months ago.
Speaking with Colin Udoh at the Taieb Mhiri Stadium, Ighalo reflected on what has been a challenging last few months for him and his family.
“I know the fans want me to score goals. I understand them.
“But some of them took it to another level.
“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 went after 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.
“You know women and how they react when you talk about their children. But I never said a word to nobody and I never replied anybody.”
Odion however stated that he did not take any action to protect his family, as they live in England while he plays in China for Changchun Yatai.
“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,” the former Watford player said.
It took national team coach, Gernot Rohr’s intervention to convince Ighalo to come back and represent Nigeria.
“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.
“But the coach had belief in me. He said ‘I know you are a good goalscorer 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 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,” Ighalo added.
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