Ighalo’s Retirement: When Persuasion Turns To Deception
By Amaechi Agbo
Super Eagles striker and the highest goal scorer at the just concluded 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) In Egypt, Jude Odion Ighalo have been in the news recently pertaining his future with the national team which finished 3rd in Egypt.
Ighalo who plays for Chinese club, Shanghai Shenhua last week announced his decision to discontinue his relationship with national football.
The 30-year-old has always been a subject of intense criticism from Nigeria fans despite his impressive goal rate for the Super Eagles.
Ighalo received several abuse after the Super Eagles’ exit from the 2018 FIFA Word Cup in Russia, but was persuaded by Rohr to keep playing for the national team.
Writing on Instagram on Friday night, the Shanghai Shenhua striker admitted he consulted with his family, before deciding to retire.
“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 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 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 player every time we step onto the pitch. I will be watching and cheering the Super Eagles from this side. Thank you… Signing out,” he wrote.
However, barely hours after his retirement announcement, Nigeria Football Federation President, Amaju Melvin Pinnick said that Ighalo has reversed his decision to retire from the Super Eagles and will continue to make international appearances.
“I have had a chat with him and he has reversed this decision. He has been under a lot of pressure from his Chinese club. But everything is now fine and he shall continue with the national team”.
The football Supremo in Nigeria also asserted that Ighalo confirmed to him that he is not yet done with the national team.
Odion Ighalo have also released a statement to this extent opining that he hasn’t made the final decision on his retirement in spite the fact that he spoke with NFF President, his retirement decision still stands as he will have to decide with his family members.
“It is not true that I have reversed my decision.
“The (NFF) president spoke to me and asked me to reconsider. Out of respect for him, I said I would think about it. I consulted with my family and we decided that the best thing for me now is to stand by the decision.
“I love my country and it was not an easy decision to make. But I believe the time is right. I am now out for eight weeks and my club are not happy about it, but I thank God for everything,” he said.
The 30-year-old signs out on a high, after winning the Golden Boot at the just concluded 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with five goals.
Ighalo played 35 games for Nigeria in total and netted 16 times.
He ranks as the seventh all-time highest goalscorer in the national team history.
“I was supposed to have retired after the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The NFF has come under severe criticisms over the team’s performance in Egypt and calls have been made in some quarters for the coach of the side, Gernot Rohr to vacate his position.
The NFF president had decided instead to send the German coach on a refresher course at the expense of the federation.
Many football followers believe that Pinnick’s hurried comment on Ighalo’s reversal on his retirement was meant to dunce tension and further criticisms since his retirement came immediately former captain of the side, Mikel Obi called it time with the Super Eagles.
It remains to be seen how long Ighlo is going to take to reverse his decision but football analysts are of the view that Nigeria still needs his services and urged the NFF to do everything possible to bring him out of his untimely retirement.