Kelechi Promise Iheanacho is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays for Premier League club Leicester City and the Nigeria national team. He has also played for Manchester City, as well as the Nigeria squad that won the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup and the Nigeria U-20 team at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Iheanacho was born on October 3, 1996 in Imo State, Nigeria. His football career began in Owerri when he represented Taye Academy in Owerri, the capital city of Imo. He also featured greatly for Nigeria in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup as his performances led to interest from clubs in Europe. In December 2012, Iheanacho traveled to England to discuss a move to Manchester City. He signed a pre-contract agreement with the club, stating his intent to formally sign for City on his 18th birthday in October 2014. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) named him the Most Promising Talent of the Year for 2013 at the CAF Awards.
On 10 January 2014, Iheanacho joined Manchester City’s Academy and before the 2014–15 season, City visited the United States on a pre-season tour, and although still not formally a City player, he joined up with the squad. He played and scored in the first match of the tour, a 4–1 win against Sporting Kansas City, and scored again against Milan in a 5–1 win. After the conclusion of the tour, Manchester City arranged for Iheanacho to train with the Columbus Crew until mid-October.
He made his debut at under-19 level in a UEFA Youth League match against Schalke 04, but sustained an injury after only 11 minutes. After his recovery, he began to represent Manchester City at both youth and under-21 level in the latter part of the season. He played in the FA Youth Cup final, where he scored, but ended on the losing side after Chelsea claimed a 5–2 aggregate victory. The following week, he scored the only goal as Manchester City beat Porto in the final of the 2014–15 Premier League International Cup
In July 2015, Iheanacho was included in City’s pre-season tour team in Australia. On the tour, he set up the first goal for Raheem Sterling and scored the second goal in the win against Roma in the 2015 International Champions Cup. On 10 August 2015, Iheanacho was included in a first-team matchday squad for the first time in a competitive fixture, however he remained an unused substitute in their 3–0 win at West Bromwich Albion in their first game of the Premier League season. He later made his competitive debut, replacing Raheem Sterling for the final minute of a 2–0 win against Watford at the City of Manchester Stadium. He scored his first competitive goal on 12 September, replacing Wilfried Bony in the final minute in a match away to Crystal Palace and scoring the only goal of the game.
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On 30 January 2016, Iheanacho scored his first career hat-trick against Aston Villa in the fourth round of the FA Cup, also setting up City’s fourth goal, scored by Raheem Sterling. The following month, he was put in City’s UEFA Champions League squad at the expense of the injured Samir Nasri. During February, Iheanacho scored against Tottenham Hotspur in a 2–1 home defeat for City.
Iheanacho ended the 2015–16 season with eight Premier League goals and had the best goals-per-minute ratio of any player averaging, a goal every 93.9 minutes.In all competitions he finished with a record of 14 goals and 5 assists from 35 appearances, although he only started 11 of these games. He ended the season as City’s third-highest scorer.
After his great history with City, Iheanacho was signed by Premier League club Leicester City on a five-year contract on 3 August 2017, for a reported £25 million fee. He made his debut for the club in a 4–3 defeat to Arsenal on 11 August 2017. He scored his first goal for Leicester in an EFL Cup tie against Leeds United on 24 October 2017.
On 16 January 2018, he was noted as the first player in English football to be awarded a goal due to VAR, as the referee deemed that the player had been incorrectly ruled offside for his second goal. The goal was Iheanacho’s second in a 2–0 win over Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup Third Round replay.
Iheanacho has has played for the Nigerian team from under-13 upwards. His first experience of a major international tournament was the 2013 African U-17 Championship in Morocco. He scored a hat-trick in a win against Botswana which he dedicated to his mother, who died two months before the tournament. Nigeria reached the final of the competition, where they were defeated on penalties by the Ivory Coast.
Iheanacho played a significant role in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where he won the Golden Ball award. Nigeria won the competition, in which Iheanacho scored six times, including once in the final, and provided seven assists. In the run-up to the 2014 African Nations Championship, Iheanacho trained with the senior Nigeria squad but was released from the squad in order to travel to England to sign with Manchester City. He was part of the Nigeria squad for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, and featured in two matches.
He was selected by Nigeria for their 35-man provisional squad for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but failed to make the final 18. He made his senior debut as a substitute in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Swaziland in which Nigeria drew 0–0. His first start for the senior team was on 25 March 2016, a 1–1 draw with Egypt in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match.
Iheanacho was selected by Nigeria in friendly games against Mali and Luxembourg in May 2016. He scored in the two games providing an assist against Luxembourg. In May 2018 he was named in Nigeria’s preliminary 30 man squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.