Kelechi Iheanacho has told The Players’ Tribune that he had to save up around 15p (50 naira) to watch Sergio Aguero’s famous goal that secured the Premier League title for Manchester City in 2012.
Iheanacho was a 15-year-old in his native Nigeria when his now teammate Aguero scored a 94th-minute winner on the final day of the season to clinch a 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers and City’s first title in 44 years.
Iheanacho had never watched City before but says the moment had a big impact on him — and four years on, the strikers are now lining up alongside each other at the Etihad Stadium.
The 20-year-old said he usually could not afford to watch Premier League matches when he was growing up but made a special exception for Aguero’s dramatic winner on the final day of the season, which saw City take the title away from bitter rivals Manchester United.
“There was one place in town that everybody called the ‘game centre,’ and it had a satellite dish, but you had to pay money to go inside,” Iheanacho said.
“It was 50 naira [about 15p] for a Premier League match, and I did not have that kind of money. So I would wait outside playing football with my mates until somebody came out and told us what had happened in the match.
“In 2012, when I was 15, I saved some money and went to the game centre on the last day of the Premier League season. It was a very big deal, because the title race was so close.
“I sat there and watched Sergio Aguero score the last-minute goal that won Man City the title — and that took it away from Man United. On the TV, Sergio took his shirt off and whipped it around, and everybody in the game centre was going crazy.
“That was maybe the first Man City game I ever watched. I had never been to England before. I had no idea that in a few years, I would be playing on the same team as Sergio.”
Iheanacho, who has scored six goals this season, also revealed how special it was to net the winner at Old Trafford in the 2-1 victory over United earlier this season.
He was called into the side for the derby on Sept. 10 because Aguero was serving a three-game suspension, and Iheanacho said it was difficult to stay calm for such a big game.
“Because I was only 19, I did not expect to be in the starting XI,” he added. “When the manager told me that I was going to start, I tried to tell myself, ‘it’s just a game of football,’ but if I am telling the truth, it is not a normal game.
“The atmosphere and intensity gives you a very different feeling as soon as you step on the pitch. It’s war for 90 minutes in the Manchester Derby. You cannot give anything less than 100 percent concentration. So I just tried to focus completely on the match.
“I was so happy, but then in the 36th minute, something really amazing happened. I was standing in front of the United goal when Kevin [De Bruyne’s] shot struck the post. The ball came right to my feet. I kicked it into the back of the net without thinking. I looked over to the linesman, not believing that I had really scored. The flag was down. I was onside.
“My teammates ran over to me, and I felt what I can only describe as the ‘Manchester Derby feeling.’ No one can know how I felt unless they’ve scored in the derby. I did not even celebrate. The feeling was too much.”