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Kelechi Iheanacho: Meet the man who silenced Egypt in Nigeria’s AFCON opener

Nigeria kicked off their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a dominant 1-0 win over seven-time champions Egypt.

The players put in a brilliant performance, but there was one name on everybody’s lips, and that is Kelechi Iheanacho.

Iheanacho scored the only goal of the with a fine finish on the half-hour mark. It was a moment he deserved to enjoy, having overcome some challenges in his career.

Iheanahcho’s journey started in 2013 when he helped Nigeria’s U17 team win the FIFA U17 World Cup. The then youngster’s performance stood out from the rest, earning him the Golden Ball and the Silver Boot.

Following his impressive performances, a host of clubs were interested in signing the Nigerian. Eventually, Manchester City won the race to sign him, which in retrospect, looked like a wrong move.

Iheanacho spent two years with City’s first team, but he never got enough chances due to the array of attacking talents the Premier League champions possessed.

Still, he managed to score 21 goals and provided eight assists in 63 games for the Citizens.

The 25-year-old left City in 2017 to sign for Leicester City, but his career at the King Power Stadium never got off to a great start.

Iheanacho struggled in his first two years at the club, which eventually cost him a place in Nigeria’s 2019 AFCON squad.

However, in December 2020, his luck changed after he came off the bench to provide an assist before scoring the winner in Leicester’s Premier League game against Everton.

Last season, he was Leicester’s top scorer in all competitions and was key in their run to the FA Cup victory. In the same season, he became just the fifth Nigerian star to win the Premier League player of the month.

His international career is also blossoming again, and it is only fitting that he scored Nigeria’s first goal at AFCON 2021, having missed the 2019 edition.