Kelechi Iheanacho Profile: Club And International Career And Honors

Kelechi Promise Iheanacho, often called “Senior Man,” is a Nigerian footballer born October 3, 1996, in Owerri, Nigeria.  Playing as a striker, Iheanacho is known for his vision, dribbling, speed, and finishing skills. As of July 2024, he is set to leave Leicester City as a free agent.

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Kelechi Iheanacho Club Career:

Manchester City

Kelechi Iheanacho started his football career at Taye Academy in Owerri. His impressive performances at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup caught the eye of many European clubs, including Arsenal, Sporting CP, and Porto.

Before moving to England, Iheanacho returned to Nigeria, and at the end of 2013, he was named the Most Promising Talent of the Year by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

On January 10, 2015, He joined Manchester City’s Academy. Before that, he was part of the team during their pre-season tour in the United States for the 2014-15 season.

Even though he wasn’t officially a City player yet, he played in the tour, scoring in a 4-1 win against Sporting Kansas City and again in a 5-1 win against Milan.

After the tour, he trained with the Columbus Crew until mid-October due to delays in obtaining a work permit, which prevented him from playing in England until February 2015.

Iheanacho made his debut for City’s under-19 team in a UEFA Youth League match against Schalke 04, but he got injured just 11 minutes into the game.

After recovering, he began playing for both the youth and under-21 teams. He scored in the FA Youth Cup final, though City lost to Chelsea 5-2 on aggregate. However, he helped City win the 2014-15 Premier League International Cup by scoring the only goal in the final against Porto.

Iheanacho was included in City’s pre-season tour team in Australia In July 2015. He assisted Raheem Sterling’s goal and scored one himself against Roma in the 2015 International Champions Cup.

He also set up Sterling for another goal in an 8-1 win against Vietnam’s national team. His strong performance during the pre-season earned him a promotion to the senior squad.

On August 10, 2015, he was included in the first-team matchday squad for the first time in a competitive fixture, although he did not play. He made his competitive debut on August 29, 2015, replacing Raheem Sterling in the final minute of a 2-0 win against Watford.

Iheanacho scored his first competitive goal on September 12, 2015, in a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace. Iheanacho’s scored his first career hat-trick on January 30, 2016, in a 4-0 FA Cup win against Aston Villa.

In February, he was added to City’s UEFA Champions League squad, replacing the injured Samir Nasri. He scored against Tottenham Hotspur in a 2-1 home defeat and later netted two goals against Stoke City in a 4-0 victory on April 23, 2016.

Iheanacho finished the 2015-16 season with eight Premier League goals, having the best goals-per-minute ratio of any player, averaging a goal every 93.9 minutes. In all competitions, he scored 14 goals and provided 5 assists in 35 appearances.

Iheanacho started the Manchester derby on September 10, 2016, recording an assist and scoring a goal in City’s 2-1 win. Four days later, he scored his first European goal in a 4-0 Champions League win against Borussia Mönchengladbach.

He then scored and assisted in a 4-0 win against AFC Bournemouth, joining a list of players who scored 10 Premier League goals before turning 20.

In October 2016, Iheanacho was nominated for the FIFA Golden Boy award, eventually won by Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches. His final goal for City came against Huddersfield in a 5-1 FA Cup fifth-round replay win on December 6, 2016.

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Leicester City

Kelechi Iheanacho joined Premier League club Leicester City on August 3, 2017. He signed a five-year contract with the club, and the transfer fee was reported to be £25 million. Iheanacho made his debut for Leicester City on August 11, 2017, in a match against Arsenal.

However, the game ended in a 4–3 defeat for Leicester City. Iheanacho scored his first goal for Leicester City on October 24, 2017, in an EFL Cup match against Leeds United.

On January 16, 2018, Iheanacho became the first player to be awarded a goal due by the video assistant referee (VAR). This happened in a match against Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup Third Round replay.

Iheanacho was initially ruled offside for his second goal, but the decision was overturned by VAR, giving him his second goal in a 2–0 win. At the start of the 2020–21 season, Iheanacho was not a regular starter for Leicester City.

He only started two of the first 21 Premier League games. However, injuries to key players gave him more opportunities to play. Iheanacho went on an impressive run in March and April, scoring 12 goals in 10 games across all competitions.

On March 14, 2021, Iheanacho scored his first Premier League hat-trick in a 5–0 victory over Sheffield United. A week later, he scored two goals in a 3–1 win against Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

This win sent Leicester City into the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since the 1981–82 season. During this period, Iheanacho scored eight goals in nine matches in all competitions.

His excellent performance earned him the Premier League Player of the Month award for March 2021, as he scored five goals in three league games. On April 18, 2021, Iheanacho scored the only goal in a 1–0 win over Southampton in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium.

This win took Leicester City to their first FA Cup final since 1969. The 2021–22 season started well for Iheanacho and Leicester City. Against Manchester City in the 2021 FA Community Shield, Iheanacho came on as a substitute in the 79th minute and scored the winning goal.

His goal was an 89th-minute penalty against his former club, securing the Community Shield for Leicester City. The 2022–23 season was challenging for Leicester City.

Despite the team’s struggles, Iheanacho had a notable season and was named Leicester’s Player of the Year. But, the season ended with Leicester City being relegated from the Premier League. In the 2023–24 season, Iheanacho played in 26 matches across all competitions and scored six goals.

Leicester City managed to achieve promotion back to the Premier League, winning the EFL Championship. On June 7, 2024, it was announced that Iheanacho, along with other players, would leave the club at the end of the season.

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Kelechi Iheanacho International Career:

Kelechi Iheanacho has had an impressive journey representing Nigeria in football from a young age. His international career started at the youth level, where he played for Nigeria’s under-13 team and progressed through the ranks.

Iheanacho first made a mark at a major international tournament during the 2013 African U-17 Championship in Morocco. In this tournament, he was outstanding, scoring a hat-trick in a victory against Botswana.

This performance was particularly emotional for him as he dedicated his goals to his mother, who had passed away just two months before the tournament. Nigeria reached the final, but they were defeated by Ivory Coast in a penalty shootout.

The same year, Iheanacho played an important role in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup. His impressive performance won him the Golden Ball Award.

Nigeria emerged as the champions, with Iheanacho scoring six goals, including one in the final, and providing seven assists throughout the competition.

His contributions were vital to Nigeria’s success and established him as a promising young talent. In the lead-up to the 2014 African Nations Championship, Iheanacho was called up to train with the senior Nigeria squad.

However, he had to leave the camp early to travel to England, where he signed with Manchester City. In 2015, Iheanacho was part of Nigeria’s squad for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

He played in two matches during the tournament, gaining valuable experience on the international stage. In 2016, he was included in Nigeria’s provisional squad for the Summer Olympics but did not make the final 18-man team.

Iheanacho made his senior debut for Nigeria in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Eswatini, which ended in a 0-0 draw. His first start for the senior team came on March 25, 2016, in a 1-1 draw against Egypt during a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match.

He continued to impress in friendly matches against Mali and Luxembourg in May 2016, scoring in both games and providing an assist against Luxembourg. These performances earned him other opportunities with the senior team.

In another African Cup of Nations qualifier against Egypt, he provided an assist for Oghenekaro Etebo. He scored two excellent goals in important matches against Tanzania and Zambia during the AFCON and 2018 World Cup qualifications.

In June 2018, Iheanacho was named in Nigeria’s 23-man squad for the World Cup in Russia. Austin Eguavoen Included him in the 28-man squad for the Africa Cup of Nations on December 2.

He scored Nigeria’s first goal of the tournament in their opening match victory against Egypt. In December 2023, Iheanacho was called up for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast.

In the semi-final match against South Africa, he scored the winning penalty in a shootout, following a 1-1 draw. This goal helped Nigeria advance to the final, where they lost 2-1 to Ivory cost.

Kelechi Iheanacho Market Value:

Kelechi Iheanacho’s market value is currently €12.00 million. The highest market value he ever reached was €20.00 million on June 8, 2021. And the most recent update to his market value was on May 24, 2024.

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Kelechi Iheanacho Honors:

Manchester City

  • 2015/2016: Football League Cup

Leicester City

  • 2020/2021: FA Cup
  • 2021: FA Community Shield
  • 2023/2024: EFL Championship

Nigeria U17

  • 2013: FIFA U-17 World Cup


  • 2023: Africa Cup of Nations runner-up


  • 2013: FIFA U-17 World Cup Golden Ball
  • 2013: FIFA U-17 World Cup Silver Shoe
  • 2013, 2016: CAF Most Promising Talent of the Year
  • 2016: CAF Team of the Year
  • 2013: CAF U-17 African Championship Silver Shoe
  • Match 2021: Premier League Player of the Month
  • 2022/2023: Leicester City Player of the Year