The Nigeria international has only played for two Premier League clubs since he arrived in England eight years ago
Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho has revealed how two of his former Manchester City teammates – Gaël Clichy and Vincent Kompany – played crucial roles in helping his development in England.
Iheanacho joined Manchester City in 2014 as a teenager without any experience in European football, having arrived straight from Nigeria’s Taye Academy.
The striker has even confessed that he did not initially want to sign for City and that it took the intervention of his father to convince him to team up with the Citizens.
The then-teen forward, however, believed in his ability, having helped Nigeria win the u17 FIFA World Cup in 2013.
Still, the tough weather conditions in England and the high demands of English football were the first challenges Iheanacho had to battle with in Manchester.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini, however, promoted Iheanacho from the academy to the first team within a year of signing for City.
But getting into a team blessed with numerous attacking talents was never going to be easy. Iheanacho remains grateful, however, to the City captain at the time Vincent Kompany for his words of encouragement.
Even more important was the support of former Arsenal defender Gaël Clichy who taught Iheanacho how to seize his opportunity whenever it came.
“The manager (Manuel Pellegrini) said to me that I was going into the first team, so I was really happy and the players loved me as well,” Iheanacho told LCFC. “It was a very wonderful experience to be in a team like that and a winning team. I was really happy to be part of that.
“Obviously, I didn’t get to play much but I was part of a big squad with brilliant players to win that. It was exciting. There were a lot of them (quality players). Yaya Touré, Samir Nasri, Jesús Navas, David Silva, and the captain Vincent Kompany, who always talked to me and gave me advice.
“And Gaël Clichy, I called him my teacher. He’s the one who taught me how to go and get what you want and how to be tough and fight on the pitch because he is a fighter. He never gets tired.
“He was always with me and pushing me. If he was against me [in training], he was going to kick me and say that I have to stand and fight back. I will never forget his kind words and teaching. He was my closest friend.”
Iheanacho left Manchester City for Leicester City in 2017 after scoring 21 goals in 64 appearances.