Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo has revealed the reason behind his choice of the number 25 jersey.
The 30-year-old joined the Red Devils from Shanghai Shenhua on loan till the end of the season and chose the jersey previously worn by United captain Antonio Valencia who departed the club last summer.
In his first official interview with United, Ighalo revealed he settled for number 25 because his original choices of 24 which he wore at Watford and 9 which he currently dons for his Chinese club were unavailable.
Dutch defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah and French forward Anthony Martial currently occupy both numbers for the Red Devils.
”No.19 was available because, when I was at Watford, I put on 24. No.24 is not available. In Shanghai no.9, it’s not available, so I said 24 + 1 is 25, so I said okay, let me go for 25 instead of 19,“ Ighalo told United’s website.
Ighalo who said he took a pay cut to facilitate the move, also revealed the hectic behind-the-scenes rush to complete his move to United on deadline day, revealing that the paperwork was sorted just an hour to the close of the January window.
“My agent called me the day before and said Man United. I would love to go. A few other clubs had shown interest, I said please, just pick United, if it’s going to be possible. At 11pm in Shanghai, my agent called me [to say] that United want to do the deal, so I woke up that night and started looking for a translator to go to the directors’ room and hit his door and all that. My agent wants to speak to you, United are coming for me, you have to make this happen and all that you know. So they started talking and discussing. I didn’t sleep throughout that night, because it was going to end at 7am, Shanghai time, and the transfer [window] is going to close there.
”So, from 11pm, there was paperwork, negotiating and all that, for the loan deal and all that, so we are talking and other teams are calling them, wanting me, but I told my agent that this is what I want. I want to come here. He said you’re going to get a pay-cut to go to United. I said I don’t care. Make this deal happen. I want to go to United.
“I don’t care how much is the pay-cut, I know that, make it happen. So the director and everybody didn’t know what to say anymore, because I had already made up my mind, so my agent started putting it in order, and, at 5am, we finished.
“My agent said he’d forwarded all the papers to United, they will confirm for me if everything is okay. I think, around 5am-6am, he said everything is okay, it’s done. I was excited. I called my mum and she was happy, crying and all that. This is your dream and all that and I’m happy for you. It was dramatic, I didn’t sleep through, I was very happy that finally we got the deal done.“
Ighalo will have the chance to don his number 25 jersey for the first time as a Manchester United player when the Red Devils play their top-four rivals, Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge on 17 February.