Super Eagles striker, Odion Ighalo has revealed that the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick was among other people who pressured him to return to the national team.
It will be recalled that Ighalo made a return ahead of the final round of matches of the FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers three years after he had announced his retirement.
His return polarized fans and administrators arguing that his return could hamper the progress of younger strikers such as Victor Osimhen and Paul Onachu.
According to ESPN, he was also pressured by coach Gernot Rohr, who had made it clear since the forward announced his retirement hat he would have preferred to see him carry on.
“Since I resigned in 2019, the coach has been in communication with me to come back. Game after game he would call me and ask me when I am coming back. The pressure was a lot,” ,” Ighalo said.
Ighalo said the pressure intensified with NFF President Amaju Pinnick joining in and the forward said could not say no.
“I kept telling him I don’t think I want to come back but the pressure was too much and then the NFF President joined in,” Ighalo said.
He further revealed that Rohr support following the threats he received after a poor 2018 World Cup performance played a role in his return.
“I decided to come back because Coach Rohr was there for me in 2018. I was getting death threats after the World Cup and I said I was not going to play again for Nigeria.
“He called me and said even the best players in the world miss chances. He told me to forget about what they’re saying, that when I come back and start scoring, the same people will still come back to say good things. He assured me that he trusted me and believes in me.
“He gave me confidence. I needed him then and he was there for me. So now he was calling me, messaging me to come back. He needed me now, would I turn him down? Game after game, he has been asking me. So I said, Okay. If he was there for me, and he needs me now, I have to be there for him too.
“It is my country. It’s a privilege to play for Nigeria. So it was my decision to come back even though the pressure was a lot and I’m happy I’m back.,” he said.
Odion Ighalo featured in Nigeria’s final Group C Worldcup qualifying 1-1 draw against Cape Verde at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, Nigeria, a result which was enough to see the team through to the playoffs round of the Qualifiers next year.