Odion Ighalo has confirmed his retirement from international football after what could pass for a glorious outing at the just concluded 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Reports of Ighalo’s retirement had been everywhere after the erstwhile captain, John Mikel Obi, announced he was bowing out. But, the China-based striker only made an official pronouncement late Friday night after the 2019 AFCON was concluded.
Ighalo emerged the highest goal scorer of the competition and was named in the team of the tournament.
It is understood that the Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr had pleaded with Ighalo to only make his retirement public after the tournament in Egypt is concluded.
In an emotional post on his official page, just like Mikel, Ighalo revealed why he has chosen to quit the Super Eagles.
He said this is one of his hardest career decisions but was quick to add that the desire to give a chance to the upcoming players and also to concentrate fully on his club career informed his decision.
Here is the full statement from Ighalo:
“This is one of the most difficult career decisions I have had to take. It’s been an amazing 5 years journey, but after due consultation and extensive discussion with my family, I have decided it’s time for me to retire from the National team.
“It’s has been an eventful and most memorable opportunity to serve my country with pride, passion and to contribute my quota to the development of our football, the memories would stay with me for a long time and I’m immensely grateful. It is now time to concentrate on Club football and give the younger players a chance to learn and grow.
“I would love to thank the NFF, coach Gernot Rohr for believing in me against all odds, to my teammates for their professionalism and team spirit without you guys I wouldn’t have achieved so much with this team.
“To NIGERIAN football fans all over the world, I SAY THANK YOU, you were always there to cheer us on and our 12th players every time we step into the pitch. I will be watching and cheering the SUPER EAGLES from this side. THANK YOU…..signing OUT ✍🏽🦅🇳🇬🙏🏾”
Indeed, Ighalo is signing out on a high after finishing as the top scorer at the 2019 AFCON. The striker was also the only Nigerian in the team of the tournament dominated by finalists, Algeria and Senegal.
On 24 March 2015, after a series of strong performances for Watford, the then newly appointed Nigeria interim coach Daniel Amokachi selected Ighalo for the first time.
He won his first cap two days later, starting in a 0–1 friendly home loss to Uganda.
Ighalo represented Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup which was his first and then the 2019 AFCON which was also first with the Super Eagles.