Men's Team

International Memories: Kelechi's U17 World Cup

International Memories: Kelechi's U17 World Cup
No fewer than 13 of Pep Guardiola’s squad received the call to represent their country during the latest international break.

City players have enjoyed some brilliant moments at international level and this week we’ll be recounting the occasions when our boys turned it on as the world was watching.

After looking back on the international achievements of Claudio Bravo, David Silva and Yaya Toure so far, today we focus on Kelechi Iheanacho's impact at the 2013 U17 World Cup.

Shining light

Long before Iheanacho was to come to Manchester, score plenty of goals and earn the nickname 'Uncle Kel', he was widely regarded as Nigeria's biggest hope for the future.

In fact, his exploits at this tournament in the United Arab Emirates were to have a big hand in his award as the 'Most Promising Talent of the Year' in African football.

Getting Started

The Super Eagles began the tournament against Mexico in what proved to be Iheanacho's most fruitful showing of the tournament as he scored four in a 6-1 victory. At that stage, very few would have predicted that this would be a dress rehearsal for the final.

Iheanacho's team drew 3-3 with Sweden before hammering Iraq 5-0 to finish top of the group.

LINEUP: Nigeria's youngsters get their pre-match photo in at the World Cup
LINEUP: Nigeria's youngsters get their pre-match photo in at the World Cup


Iheanacho's 25th minute strike was one of Nigeria's four as they cruised past Iran in the Round of 16.

Kelechi and his teammates moved in to their quarter-final against Uruguay full of confidence and that confidence wasn't misplaced as Iheanacho created Taiwo Awoniyi's two match-winning goals from his number 10 role.

The Super Eagles came up against Sweden, the only side to have to stopped them so far, again in the semi-final but it proved much easier second time around. Iheanacho set up Awoniyi for the opener and continued to be a thorn in Sweden's side as Nigeria won 3-0 and progressed to the final.

Final - Mexico, We Meet Again

In a performance City fans were to become used to seeing, Iheanacho buzzed around Abu Dhabi's Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium and worried the Mexico defence with every touch.

Our man scored Nigeria's second in an emphatic 3-0 victory with a close range finish and threatened throughout in both a creative and striking role in front of 20,000 fans.

Iheanacho scored six goals at the tournament with five of them coming against the Mexicans.

EASY: Kelechi reacts to his cool finish against Mexico
EASY: Kelechi reacts to his cool finish against Mexico

The tournament triumph was Nigeria's fourth at the level, which was the record haul at the time until the Super Eagles successfully defended their trophy in 2015. 

What happened next...

This is the bit every City fan already knows. After moving to Manchester in 2014, the Nigerian shone for the Elite Development Squad almost immediately and it wasn't long before Manuel Pellegrini called on him to star for the first team.

Just over a year since his first goal, a late winner at Crystal Palace, Iheanacho is an established member of Pep Guardiola's Premier League and Champions League squad.

Read all the latest international action from our Man City squad.

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