Odion Ighalo has revealed that he idolised former Manchester United strikers Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole as a youngster and modelled his game on them as a professional as talks over his future at Old Trafford rages on.
Ighalo, a boyhood United supporter, made a surprise January move to join the Red Devils on loan from Shanghai Shenhua taking a massive pay cut to make the move possible.
The 30-year-old former Super Eagles striker told United’s official website that following in the footsteps of his childhood heroes in gracing the turf at Old Trafford is a privilege.
“Well, I had a lot of football heroes. When I started supporting Man United, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were my heroes growing up. And some Nigerian players as well like Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu,” the former Watford striker said.
”They are great players, they were my heroes growing up and I watched them on TV. It is a great privilege for me to play at Man United, where great players like Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole have played.”
As he began his professional career, Ighalo said that he studiously analysed the way in which the pair played and learnt much from dissecting their performances.
He said: ”Yeah, I would say that as a striker I watched Andy Cole a lot and Dwight Yorke. They were great strikers and scored a lot of goals.
”So I would watch their movements, the way they played, the way they created space for themselves, watching the way they met crosses behind defenders. I learned all of that and it has helped me a lot in my football career.”
Ighalo would hope to enjoy a fraction of the success at Old Trafford as Yorke and Cole who won a sackful of trophies at United and were both part of the club’s treble-winning side in the 1998-99 season.
Yorke scored 66 goals in 147 games for United, while Cole found the net 121 times in 275 appearances.
Ighalo has so far scored four goals in his eight appearances for United before football in England was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
His performances have quickly turned him into a fan-favourite and United boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer confirmed that plans are afoot to sign Ighalo permanently after his loan deal expires.
The player himself has signalled his intention to remain with the Red Devils despite a reported £400,000 offer to extend his contract with his parent club.
Ighalo left no one in doubt about where his preference lies after he replied in the affirmative to a fan who wanted to know if he would sign a permanent deal were United to offer him one.