Super Eagles forward Odion Ighalo has hinted that he almost retired from the national team, due to abuses and death threats he and his family received from aggrieved Nigeria soccer fans after his disappointing showing at the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Ighalo scored five goals in two games for Nigeria, including a hat-trick in Uyo against the Libyans to help the team to the top of Group E of 2019 AFCON qualifier scheduled for Cameroon.
However, the abuses the Changchun Yatai hitman received from angry Nigeria football lovers on the social media after the loss of Super Eagles to Albeceste of Argentina, where his misses earned the elimination from the tournament made him had a rethinking over representing his fatherland again.
“I know the fans want me to score goals. I understand them,” Ighalo told ESPN.
“They said a lot of things. To my innocent kids, to my wife, even to the extent they threatened my life and the life of my family”.
“I felt very bad [when they went after my family]. I had to talk to my wife because she could not take it. Some words they said about my kids, about me. Some words they said to her, threatening and all that. That is beyond football”.
“You know women and how they react when you talk about their children. But I never said a word to anybody and I never replied anybody.”
“My wife said ‘you don’t have to go there [to Nigeria] anymore’ and it was because of all what they said to her and to our family.”
The former Udinese man is now the darling of the same fans that turned the hit on him, but the striker praised Rohr for giving him the chance to redeem himself by talking him out of retirement from national team assignment.
“I want to thank Rohr because after the World Cup and all those things happened, he called me before the Seychelles game [in September] and I told him I was contemplating stopping because it is not easy,” he continued.
“But the coach had belief in me, he said: ‘I know you are a good goalscorer and I know you can do it. Come and show them that you can score.’
The I told coach, if I am in your plans hundred percent then I will honour the invitation any time you call me.’
He said ‘yes, you-you are in my plans for the games’. Then he said ‘don’t be under pressure, just go do your thing, I know you can do it.’
“That gave me the confidence which I believed that I needed. I want to thank him for defending me, and giving me the words like a father, encouraging me, talking to me.
He gave me more belief and I thank God for repaying him with these goals”. He concluded