Nigerian international Kelechi Iheanacho is undoubtedly on a roll.
Over the past few months, the 24-year-old hasn’t put a foot wrong, scoring winners and providing vital assists as Leicester City battle for a commendable top four finish.
But the former youth star has caused mayhem on social media following a recent nod to the Igbo culture.
Ahead of today’s Premier League clash against Newcastle United, Iheanacho took to Twitter to repost a picture of his jersey initially tweeted by Leicester City but with the caption, “FOR THE IGBO CULTURE.”
Spelt “ỊHEANACHỌ” with two distinctive dots (punctuations of the Igbo tribe) underneath the first and last letters on the Foxes’ jersey, the name is translated thus: “What We Habe Been Looking For” and the player noted that “In our tradition, the exclamation under the names is very, very important.”
The comment, however benign, hasn’t gone down well with all Nigerian fans on social media as his non-Igbo supporters felt he should have declared as a Nigerian man and not just an Igbo man.
A fan @KiddyYusuf, said “Man (Iheanacho) had a chance to say Nigeria.”
Another @Ahmadcheirry added: “We made you” referring to Nigeria, while another Twitter user – @omogbolahan_03 supported him saying “Not only for the IGBO for Nigerians culture.”
But in defence of the 24-year-old who hails from Imo State, south-east Nigeria, some fans rebuked his critics for going over board.
They cited other instances where two-time unified world heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua and Ultimate Fighting Championship Middleweight Champion, Israel Adesanya had flaunted their Yoruba names and culture without persecution.
@ReddGhost argued that “Israel Adesanya wins fight and reps the Yoruba culture. Anthony Joshua wins and does same, but kelechi repping ndi Igbo is a problem for some people. Aswear some of una dey gbogbolo cigar oh. Whutt???!!”
Another user, @Austinpapz noted that the “Comments here actually makes me laff honestly, Isreal Adesanya/ Anthony Joshua they constantly rep the Yoruba culture steady, it sat well with most of u guys, e don reach “Senior Man Kels” turn u guys have tagged him a tribalistic fellow.. really appalling.”
@Iam_kristenT noted that “The level of bigotry in the comment section of this posts is screaming to the high heavens. Fgs, Anthony Joshua professes his identity and we love him more for it. it seems this is now becoming a pattern and must be resisted by all Igbos and people of good conscience.”
Hopefully, the social media fuzz remains in that space and doesn’t derail the sensational Nigerian from achieving greater feats.