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Kelechi Iheanacho: Nigeria’s striker unimpressed by the role on the Leicester bench

Nigerian international Kelechi Iheanacho insists he has no complaints about starting this season as a replacement for English Premier League club Leicester City.

His role on the bench comes despite scored 19 goals last season to end Jamie Vardy’s five-year streak as the club’s top scorer and help them end up as surprising FA Cup winners.

Last month he picked up where he left off when he received a late sentence Foxes stunned Masters Manchester City to earn the Community Shield at the start of the season.

Even so, he is still waiting for his first league start this season after playing just 67 minutes in Leicester’s first four games when he was substituted on.

“Of course I had a pretty good season at the end of last season, but honestly I don’t mind [about] what’s going on, “Iheanacho told BBC Sport Africa.

“Now we have new players and a big squad. We need everyone to win trophies and games.”

This season there is a greater depth of attack, with the arrival of Zambia’s Patson Daka to join him in pushing club legend Vardy for a seat.

“It’s going to be an important season and we have so many games and different competitions,” added Iheanacho, 24.

“Under the same circumstances, there are other players on the bench. I know that everyone is needed and important to the squad.”

“But whenever I get the chance to play or start, I’ll just do my job and make the team a success. We have a lot of games and everyone will be involved.”

Idol

Leicester City's Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates his goal for NigeriaIheanacho scored twice for Nigeria when they beat Liberia in World Cup qualifiers earlier this year

2021 has been good for Iheanacho so far – he was named Premier League Player of the Month in March while signing a new deal to keep him at Leicester until 2024.

The turning point comes two years after a 14-month goal drought in which he was ridiculed by the club’s fans.

On the international front, Iheanacho showed his skills by scoring both goals as Nigeria kicked off the qualifying program for the 2022 World Cup in Group C with a comfortable 2-0 win over Liberia in Lagos.

With eleven goals and five assists in 33 games for the three-time African champions, Iheanacho is widely regarded as the newest figurehead of European football in his country.

He admits that he has grown used to the idea of ​​being a role model for young children across the West African nation.

“I honestly focus on my football, but I am happy when the children are inspired by what I do,” he said.

“If at the end of the day I can inspire other young children to dream of playing football in the Premier League, then that will be great. I will be happy to do more and keep doing well and young African children too to inspire.”

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