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Iheanacho's inspirational tale

Kelechi Iheanacho hopes his meteoric rise from humble beginnings to Manchester City star can inspire the next generation of Nigerian footballers.
On arrival at City's Academy in early 2014, the odds were stacked against Iheanacho coming through the ranks and then dislodging Edin Dzeko, Alvaro Negredo and Stefan Jovetic in the first team.
However, three years on, the 20-year-old has done exactly that, seizing his opportunity under Manuel Pellegrini before going on to play a key role under Pep Guardiola. Testament to his seamless adaptation, Iheanacho is the most prolific striker with 10 or more goals in Premier League history, averaging a goal every 102 minutes.And, writing on The Players' Tribune , one goal in particular - the winner on his first Manchester derby start - holds special significance for the striker.
"It took me some time to prove myself to get into the first-team squad, but everything I have been through, all the difficult times, have been worth it," Iheanacho said.
Man Utd 1-2 Man City
"In September, I achieved something that every boy dreams about. I walked out onto the pitch at Old Trafford as a starter in the Manchester derby.
"Because I was only 19, I did not expect to be in the starting XI. I tried to tell myself, it was just a game of football but 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 was war for 90 minutes.
The atmosphere and intensity gives you a very different feeling as soon as you step on the pitch. It was war for 90 minutes.
Kelechi Iheanacho on the Manchester derby
"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 and 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 team-mates ran over to me, and I felt what I can only describe as the 'Manchester Derby Feeling'.
Iheanacho is mobbed by his team-mates in front of the Stretford End
"No-one can know how I felt unless they've scored in the derby. I did not even celebrate. The feeling was too much."
The latest football product of Owerri - the southern Nigerian city, home of former Premier League striker Nwankwo Kanu - Iheanacho hopes his career can act as inspiration to those who find themselves in similarly humble beginnings he grew up in.
"Four years ago I could not afford to watch this match on the television," he added. "Now people in the game centre back home were watching me score this goal.
Iheanacho is following in Nwankwo Kanu's footsteps in the Premier League
"Maybe the kids who could not afford the 50 naira were waiting outside, kicking a ball or a balloon around. Maybe somebody came outside after the match was over and told them "Manchester City won. Kelechi scored.
"I hope I can show them that they can do anything. Whenever I go back home to Nigeria now, I always bring a bag full of Manchester City shirts for the kids.
"If you go to Owerri now, you will see a lot of children playing in the streets, wearing blue. Nigeria has a lot of Man City fans, and they're going to have more every time I go home."
Read 'The Whistle', Kelechi Iheanacho's account of his journey from Nigeria to Premier League footballer, on The Players' Tribune here

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