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City A to Z: I is for...?

Ireland poster

Ireland poster

There are a few alphabetical challenges in this list and the letter I is among them. So what gems did we manage to uncover...?

I is for Ireland

Stephen Ireland joined City from Irish side Cobh Ramblers in 2001. 

The gifted young midfielder then proceeded to impress for City's various youth teams before sufficiently impressing to be called into the first-team for his debut against Bolton Wanderers in 2005 as an 81st-minute sub and went on to make another 27 appearances for the Blues during his maiden campaign.

His first two goals for the club came against Sheffield United and then Sheffield Wednesday and Ireland soon earned a reputation for the spectacular strike and his superb form earned him the nickname 'Superman' and he reinforced the super hero tag by dropping his shorts after scoring against Sunderland to reveal a pair of Superman boxers!

The first goal

Such was his superb form during 2008/09, Ireland was named as the MCFC Player of the Year and awarded a new five-year contract, but midway through the 2009-10 campaign, Mark Hughes was sacked and Ireland had to impress new boss Roberto Mancini all over again - something he never quite managed to do and a dip in form and first team opportunities meant that by the start of the 2010/11 season, Ireland was on his way out of the Club  as part of an exchange deal that brought James Milner to City.

He'd made 176 appearances for the Blues and scored 23 goals as well as becoming a hugely popular figure among the City fans - so much so that whenever Ireland plays against the Blues, there is always a chant of 'Ireland is Superman', reminding us all of the days when the Irishman was, indeed, a super hero.

I is for Internationals

There were only a couple of international matches at City's old home Maine Road since the Second World War and England had a 100 per cent record for their appearances in Moss Side. 

The first time the national squad played at City’s home ground was on 13 November 1946, when they beat Wales 3–0. Just over three years later on 16 November 1949, England crushed Northern Ireland 9–2 in a World Cup qualifier. 

There were numerous England Under-21 games played at the ground, many during the late 1970s when the side was sprinkled with talented City youngsters such as Barnes and Owen - during one game against Italy Under-21s a young Roberto Mancini played - never guessing his future connection to the club hosting the game. 

The City of Manchester Stadium - as it was once known - has hosted two England internationals to date. In 2004 the Three Lions drew 1-1 with Japan and four days later England beat Iceland 6-1 to win the FA Summer tournament. 

In 2015, City Football Academy hosted its first international as England Women faced their Chinese counterparts at the Academy Stadium.

I is for  Immel

Eike Immel arrived at City at the end of a distinguished career in Germany where he made more than 600 appearances for Borussia Dortmund and VfB Stuttgart during a 17-year period. 

He won 19 caps for West Germany during that time and was 36 by the time he rocked up at Maine Road to keep goal for Alan Ball's team. Immel was in goal during the Blues ' relegation campaign of 1995/96 and perhaps his record of 829 goals conceded in 534 Bundesliga matches - an unwanted record - should have rang one or two alarm bells!

Immel played 47 times for City before returning to his homeland in 1997. He later appeared in the German version of 'I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!' 

I is for Iheanacho

One of the brightest prospects to emerge from African youth football in recent times, Kelechi Iheanacho is expected to break into the senior side at some point in the coming season. 

A product of the Taye Academy in Nigeria, Kelechi had to wait for his City EDS debut after awaiting international clearance to play and then promptly picked up an injury just five minutes into his first match for the Blues!

He showed flashes of his talent on last year's summer tour of the US and scored a cracker against Manchester United towards the end of the 2014/15 EDS campaign before jetting off to play in the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand - definitely one to watch out for.

Here's Kelechi in action last summer...

Our alphabetic sojourn continues tomorrow with, you guessed it… the letter 'J’.

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