Despite been offered “crazy money” that would have set him up for life, Watford striker Odion Ighalo reveals his love and ambition to play in the English Premier League made him stay at the Vicarage Road.
“When my agent mentioned the kind of money they were going to pay me I thought he was joking,” Ighalo told Watford Observer.
“(Watford owner) Gino (Pozzo) called me and asked me what I thought. The first day I said I would need to think about it but the next day I said I wanted to stay.
“The money isn’t important,” Ighalo adds. “Sometimes life isn’t just about money. My dream was to play in the Premier League. I’d played in the Spanish League and I’d played in the Italian league. wanted to play in the Premier League.
“I’d been on a journey with Watford to get into the Premier League. I will not just leave my dream and go.
“If I do well in the Premier League I know I will get close to, or match, the money I was offered.
“So why rush? At my age it isn’t good to jump into a league like that which isn’t competitive. I don’t think the excitement or challenge would’ve been good enough for me. I want to build my career.
“But for three nights I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about the crazy money and so many people were talking to my agent.
“I met them and they were begging me. They were saying that whatever I wanted they would give it to me.
“They said I should come and see China for a week. Come and see what it is like. They kept calling me but I stopped taking their calls. That is how it was.”
Given Ighalo’s start to life in the Premier League it is safe to say he made the right decision. He has scored five goals in eight games and has made an effortless transition from the Championship to England’s top flight.
He also struck for Nigeria during the international break. In his country he is becoming a star.
“The Premier League is one of the leagues everyone watches back home,” he says. “When I was younger I’d watch the Premier League and that’s where I wanted to be.
“When I go back home now, at the airport, people know who I am. They are calling my name. Even Watford jerseys are selling well in Nigeria. My brother was telling me people are selling my jersey everywhere.
“So I am happy to bring Watford to Lagos. Everybody is out there putting on the jerseys.”
But does that bring added pressure? “If I stop doing well people will stop talking about me. I am ok with the pressure. It doesn’t affect me. If I stop scoring goals then the interviews would stop. That is how it is.”