The former Watford and Granada attacker confirmed his decision to leave the national team and focus on club football
Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo has announced his retirement from international football after winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Golden Boot.
The 30-year-old was awarded the top scorer’s prize in Egypt on Friday after scoring five goals in seven appearances for the Super Eagles.
He started his career as a youth player in the U20 team and later made his senior debut during an international friendly match against Uganda in March 2015.
After playing 35 matches and scoring 16 goals which rank him as the seventh all-time highest goalscorer in the national team history, the 30-year-old took the decision to bow out for younger ones to ‘learn and grow’.
“This is one of the most difficult career decisions I have had to take. It’s been an amazing 5 years journey, but after due consultation and extensive discussion with my family I have decided it’s time for me to retire from the national team,” Ighalo wrote on Instagram.
“It has been an eventful and most memorable opportunity to serve my country with pride, passion and to contribute my quota to the development of our football, the memories would stay with me for a long time and I’m immensely grateful.
“It is now time to concentrate on club football and give the younger players chance to learn and grow. I would love to thank the NFF, coach Gernot Rohr for believing in me against all odds, to my teammates for their professionalism and team spirit, without you guys I wouldn’t have achieved so much with this team.
“To Nigerian football fans all over the world, I say thank you, you were always there to cheer us on and our 12th player every time we step onto the pitch. I will be watching and cheering the Super Eagles from this side. Thank you… Signing out.”
Ighalo is currently injured but he will shift his attention to helping Shanghai Shenhua in the Chinese Super League where he scored seven goals in nine league outings before Afcon.
The Shanghai outfit are 13th in the Chinese top-flight with four points adrift of the drop zone.