Lagos - Nigeria
striker Odion Ighalo announced on Saturday his retirement from
international football after winning the Golden Boot at the Africa Cup
The 30-year-old Shanghai Shenhua striker struck five times as the
Super Eagles finished third in Egypt, bagging him the top scorer honours
with two goals more than Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and Cedric Bakambu.
"It's been an amazing 5 years journey, but after the due consultation
and extensive discussion with my family, I have decided it's time for
me to retire from the national team," Ighalo said in a statement.
"It's been an eventful and most memorable opportunity to serve my
country with pride, passion and contribute my quota to the development
of our football.
"It's now time to concentrate on club football and give the younger players a chance to learn and grow."
Ighalo almost quit Nigeria duty after last year's World Cup following
sharp criticism and even death threats, but was encouraged to stay on
by Gernot Rohr, who Ighalo says stood by him "against all odds".
He repaid in full Rohr's faith in him, finishing top scorer in
qualifying for the tournament before his impressive showing in Egypt,
which featured a standout display as Nigeria knocked out defending
champions Cameroon in the last 16.
Ighalo scored twice and set up Alex Iwobi's winner in a thrilling 3-2 win.
In total Ighalo scored 16 goals for Nigeria in 35 appearances, and he
also captained the country’s Under-20 team to the 2009 World Cup, also
held in Egypt.
Leading goalscorers in 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after Algeria won the final in Cairo on Friday:
5 - Ighalo (NGR)
3 - Mahrez, Ounas (both ALG), Bakambu (COD), Mane (SEN)
2 - Belaili, Bounedjah (both ALG), Elmohamady, Salah (both EGY),
Kodjia, Zaha (both CIV), Andriamahitsinoro (MAD), J. Ayew (GHA), Bahoken
(CMR), En-Nesyri (MAR), Msakni (TUN), Okwi (UGA), Olunga (KEN), Pote
(BEN), Yattara (GUI), Zungu (RSA)