Nigeria, Watford star Odion Igahlo is top league scorer in England for 2015
Odion Ighalo has thanked his mother for giving him the opportunity to succeed as a youngster in Nigeria after the Watford striker ended 2015 as the top scorer across England's top four divisions.
Ighalo, 26, is currently on a club-record run of scoring in six consecutive Premier League games for Watford and, with 14 goals so far this season, is one strike behind the top flight's highest scorers Jamie Vardy and Romelu Lukaku.
The forward's goal in Monday's 2-1 defeat to Tottenham saw him finish the calendar year with 30 goals in the Championship and Premier League -- more than any other player in the top four tiers of English football -- with the Hornets rounding off the year in eighth place and just six points off of the Champions League qualification spots.
"I was born in the ghetto.... in Ajegunle," he said. "Football there was not easy because you had to buy everything you needed to train with, buy water to drink, pay for transport and all that. So, that's why any time I'm granting an interview, I always say after God, it's my mum, because it's my mum who really stood by me.
"I was really happy because many people could not have the opportunity to be where I am today or to make it in life because they didn't have someone to really stand by them. You know that some parents don't have the money to eat, not to talk of paying for shoes or transport to go for games and all that.
"So, my mum, with her small shop where she sold sachet water and soft drinks, she'd save some money to buy shoes for me, give me transport money to go play with my team or play friendly games.
"She'd even give me money to buy water after training to drink, try to pay some little things for me. It was great for me because I didn't have any helper then. I thank God today that everything that I suffered for then, I am enjoying it now."
Igahlo played in Norway and Spain before eventually earning a year-long loan move from Udinese -- who have close ties to Watford -- to the then-Championship club in summer 2014.
The striker signed for Watford permanently in October 2014 after Udinese terminated his contract, and the striker helped lead the Hornets to promotion to the Premier League.
"After I played few months [at Watford], the team wanted me and I said no, because I believed this loan thing must end," he continued. "I can't keep going on loan. When they offered me the contract, they said I should sign permanently.
"I just grabbed it because for me, I wanted to finish the season there and start a new life and new preseason with them. I was happy that I signed permanently for them and things just worked out."
Speaking about his superb year, Ighalo said: "It's great for me as a striker scoring goals for the team. And the fans believe in me. The owner of the club and my teammates know what I can do.
"So it's good; I want to keep scoring. I don't want to stop or relax because I have done what I have done, I will keep working hard, keep doing what I know how to do well, which is scoring for my team."
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Igahlo earned his first senior call for the Nigeria national team in March, and spoke of his pride at representing the Super Eagles.
"When I got my first call up for the Super Eagles, I was happy," he added. "I know that it's a privilege got me to have gotten the call up because there are over 170 million Nigerians; I was never afraid or having doubts in my mind of what I could do.
"I just wanted to come and give my best. And I know that I am going to do it. So, I am happy that I am here today."