I want to draw and send inspiration through a football player, whose story is
actually an inspiration even to me.
Yes I made a commitment to speak through my football experiences but today I
will give the ‘floor’ to another – still in football, a player who has proved worthy
of being talked about.
I want to focus on Odion Ighalo. Today, many people know Ighalo. Many had
known of him before, then he drifted out of their radar, and they moved on, but
he came back into their radar and now he is back to being well-known.
Odion Ighalo was a name in English football. He came in from Italy and Spain to
played his football for Watford FC. He was, to many, average. Then he left and
went to China.
It was from China that he made a big name for himself as a Nigerian
international. He was an important part of his country’s team until Nigeria (with
yours truly in the technical crew) went to the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
Odion Ighalo had what I will call a mediocre/average performance in Russia in
2018. He was not bad, but he did not throw up fireworks.
But then afterwards, he was maligned, insulted, cursed and condemned by many
– many who thought he was past his prime and that the best place for him was to
retreat to China and be forgotten about. The abuse was quite intense, because
they were attacks on his person, his ability, but more so, his family, his wife.
Totally unfair, regardless of what he might have done (which is, being human,
It took a fair bit of convincing to bring Odion Ighalo back into the fray, where,
although starting late, he still emerged as top scorer in the Africa Cup qualifiers.
Going to the Africa Cup proper, he continued where he left off and was top scorer
in the tournament. Again, I was in the team and we won third place at the Africa
Cup of Nations together.
Afterwards, he quietly returned to China and people were of the opinion, still,
that he was past it and he should have a good ‘retirement’ in China.
But then he got the call – a dream call from Manchester United, his boyhood club,
a club he only ever dreamt of visiting. And the call was for him to join the team as
When it was announced, people laughed at the idea. People said Manchester
United had ‘lost it’. ‘What are they doing signing someone like Ighalo – who was
past his prime?’ The list of people who had a bad word or two to say was endless.
But this boy is a fighter, and I always told him, like I am telling all my readers
today, that ‘You are not done, until you are done’.
If you know you still have something to offer, wherever you are, whatever you
are doing, go out there, work hard, check your ability, build your confidence;
your self-belief, add a touch of modest arrogance to it, and go for what you aim
for. Because if you are not done, then you can never let anyone drag you down.
Let it be for you to know when you are done, and when you know you are not,
you will keep fighting and you will excel.
Odion Ighalo today has proved that he is not done. He has banged in 4 goals in 8
games for his team. And now, the multitude of people who had maligned him and
said all the negatives about him have all flooded social media pages and singing
He has managed to do better than silence his critics. He has actually got them
singing the opposite tune to what they were singing before. And he is laughing.
Odion Ighalo is today’s inspiration – true evidence that you truly are not done,
until you are done.