Odion Ighalo, who opened his account for Manchester United in the Europa League on Thursday, dedicated his first goal in a red shirt to his late sister who had passed away in December last year.
The 30-year-old Nigerian, who moved from China’s Shanghai Shenhua, tapped home Juan Mata’s pass in the 34th minute of the last-32 second leg and became the first-ever Nigerian to score for Manchester United.
After celebrating his goal, boyhood United supporter Ighalo, lifted his shirt to reveal a vest with a photograph of his late sister Mary Atole who died suddenly on December 12 at her home in Canada.
“She was a good United fan too. We hoped for this moment but now I’m at United, she’s not here to see what is going on,” Ighalo told the club’s website.
“It’s emotional. I have promised myself that every goal I score, I’ll dedicate it to her. She’s up there watching me.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went on to describe the Nigerian as a “natural striker” after he came up with the goods on his first start for the club since moving on deadline day,
“As a fellow striker myself, I know how important that first goal is and he’s been close a couple of times,” Solskjaer, whose side were 6-1 winners on aggregate, told reporters.
“You can see he sniffs goals, he wants to be there, where it sometimes hurts. That goal, he was sharp in his head and as that ball is played over to Juan, he spins and was on the six-yard line when Juan puts it there. That’s a natural striker.”
“It’s a great moment. I’ve been waiting for this. I’ve played three games, now I’ve got a goal to start my Manchester United career, with the team I’ve supported from when I was young.”
A delighted Odion Ighalo on scoring his first goal for the United…
Ighalo, who is on loan to United until the end of the season, looks sure of more game time as fellow forward Anthony Martial was a last-minute absentee from Thursday’s match due to injury and is a doubt for Sunday’s Premier League game at Everton.
United are also missing striker Marcus Rashford with a back problem.