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Ighalo: I spent my lunch money on watching Man United

Europa League

Odion Ighalo (25) of Manchester United celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-2 during the FA Cup match between Derby County and Manchester United at the Pride Park, Derby, England on 5th March 2020. (Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Odion Ighalo is leaving his dream at Man United.

The Nigerian striker, 30, joined United on loan on transfer deadline day in January in a shock move as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scrambled around for a forward after Marcus Rashford was injured.

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Ighalo has made an immediate impact at United, scoring in the Europa League win against Club Brugge last week and then twice in the FA Cup win at Derby County this week.

Speaking to our partners Sky Sports ahead of the Manchester Derby on Sunday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via, Ighalo revealed that where he grew up in Ajegunle was “like a ghetto and it was very difficult” but he saved up his lunch money for school so he could watch Man United when the weekend arrived.

“I know many footballers say that, when they sign for a team, this is my dream team. Respect to that but my own case was different,” Ighalo explained. “Anyone who knows me back from when I was young knows me and my siblings supported Man United, we would pay to go and watch Man United play. In Nigeria, you have to have sports channels to watch that but not everyone can afford it. My parents couldn’t afford that so you have to pay a viewing centre to watch that. We would pay to watch that.

“You start saving the money they would give you to go to school. You would eat at home and they would give you some pocket money to go to school and maybe eat lunch there. But you would be saving it bit by bit and when you get to the weekend, everybody is ready. You have your jersey and you wash it before the weekend. You put them on and go to the viewing centre and it’s crazy there. Some other fans want Man United to lose then you’re a Man United fan and you want them to win and you start arguing, shouting, screaming and all of that.”

Ighalo said up to 500 people would cram into a room to watch United and added that he cannot believe his luck to be playing at Old Trafford: “It is the happiest moment of my life, playing for my dream team, the team I supported when I was young.”

Given his good form in cup competitions and that he’s made a difference coming off the bench in recent games at Chelsea and Everton, Ighalo may not start against Man City but if he jumps off the bench late in the game, now you may understand why he has that little extra motivation to play for Man United.

Follow @JPW_NBCSports