It has been a remarkable turnaround for Kelechi Iheancho over the last two months following a difficult start to the season with Leicester City.
The 23-Year-old’s career has been on a downward trajectory for some time which raised doubts if he’s ever going to fulfil potential. Iheanacho burst onto the scene at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup where he won the Golden Ball and Silver Boot as Nigeria won her fourth title.
Following the tournament, fans believed Iheanacho is the next superstar to come from Nigeria, and it’s no surprise to see clubs scrambling for his signature.
Manchester City eventually won the battle for his signature, but his time at the Etihad was not much of a success. He scored 21 times in 64 appearances for the Citizens before Leicester City paid 25m pounds for his services in 2017.
A move to the Foxes was supposed to kickstart Iheanacho’s career again, but the Super Eagles star failed to justify the fee paid for him. The 23-year-old scored just ten goals in his first 63 appearances for the Foxes.
And with him struggling at Leicester, Iheanacho’s international career also took a hit with the former Manchester City man missing out in the Super Eagles squad that finished third at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
His attitude was also questioned by Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr, and it looked like there was no way back for the U-17 world cup winner.
Although he was invited for the Super Eagles international friendly clash against Ukraine last September, he never made an appearance.
At that moment, it looked like Iheanacho will have to leave the King Power Stadium to get back into reckoning again. The Nigerian international was yet to make a Premier League appearance for Brendan Rodgers side with his lone appearance coming in a Carabao Cup encounter.
With everything looking gloom for him, Iheanacho’s turnaround came at the beginning of last month. The Foxes were trailing 1-0 to Everton in a Premier League encounter, and the Nigeria international was brought on for Ayoze Perez for his first Premier League appearance.
It was an opportunity Iheanacho took as he set up Jamie Vardy’s equalizer before netting the winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
That match proved to be the boost Iheanacho needed as it birthed a new player. He’s been rejuvenated and has become one of Leicester City’s most important players in recent games.
The Super Eagles star has scored an additional seven goals since his first league goal against Everton and has made seven more appearances in the English topflight.
His latest goal against Aston Villa on Tuesday is his eighth of the season in just 13 games, and that led to calls for him to be recalled to the Super Eagles.
In all honesty, it’s justified and proof of the hard work Iheanacho put in to turn his career around. In his absence from the team, the likes of Emmanuel Dennis and Paul Onuachu were called up to take up his spot.
However, it will be unfair if the two guys are called ahead of Iheanacho when Gernot Rohr names his Super Eagles squad for the AFCON 2021 qualifiers in March.
While a lot can still happen between now and March, Iheanacho current form shows he deserves a place in the squad ahead of Dennis and Onuachu.
Onuachu has scored eight goals in 24 games for Genk, while Dennis has eight goals in 28 games for Club Brugge. Although these are decent returns for a striker, the duo last scored a goal over a month ago.
With Iheanacho’s newfound confidence, Rohr could do with someone like him for the crucial games in March. Iheanacho has been duly criticised in the past, but it is time for Rohr to reward him for managing to get his groove back by giving him a recall when he names his squad in March.