– Odion Ighalo has retired from international football
– The striker says heavy abuse from Nigerians forced him to leave the national team
– Ighalo scored five goals and one assists to help Super Eagles win bronze at AFCON 2019
Super Eagles star Odion Ighalo has finally revealed that the constant abuse from Nigerians forced him to retire from international duties early.
The 30-year-old striker followed the footsteps of his captain John Obi Mikel to quit national team football after helping the west African country win bronze at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tourney in Egypt.
Ighalo scored his fifth goal of the tournament when his third minute tap gave the three time champions 1-0 victory over Tunisia in the losers’ final on Wednesday.
Although, the former Watford man did not announce his retirement from the team on any platform, ESPN reports that he had low-key informed the coach of his decision before the match.
“After the game, [Ighalo] gave his jersey as a souvenir to the coach, said his goodbyes and left,” a source said.
Following Nigeria’s early ouster from FIFA World Cup in Russia last year, Ighalo was seriously abused by football fans which degenerated to his family being threatened.
Many blamed him for the defeat to Argentina in their final group game over a year ago, and his failure to find the back of the net against Madagascar re-opened the wounds.
“He had discussed his decision with the coach before the third-place match, saying that the constant abuse was taking a toll on his young family, but he was advised to keep it under wraps for the moment,” the sources told ESPN.
The striker was said to have posted on his WhatsApp status update before the game saying the Tunisian match was his “Final Game“.
“He has been very strong for us,” Rohr told ESPN. “And it is sad that he wants not to continue. “But the door always is open for him any time.”
Ighalo made his Super Eagles debut under coach Daniel Amokachi 2015 when they lost 1-0 Uganda in a friendly. He went on to score 16 goals in 35 appearances in all competitions.
He could however win the AFCON 2019 golden boots award after leading the chart with five goals and one assist.
With Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez, Adam Ounas and one other star all have three goals and still stand a chance to win the award.
TUKO.co.ke earlier reported that Super Eagles coach Rohr has hinted that the search for replacement of former captain John Obi Mikel will commence immediately.
Speaking moments after the 32-year-old Mikel announced he was retiring from national team duties, Rohr, who guided Nigeria to a third place finish at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt, insists the position is open for youngsters playing regularly for their clubs.
The Franco-German tactician also found time to talk about Semi Ajayi.
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Source: Tuko Newspaper