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To date, Iheanacho has enjoyed excellent relationships (and high praise) from both his national team manager, Manu Garba, and his club coach Manuel Pellegrini.
Speaking to FIFA.com after the U-17 World Cup Final, Iheanacho was clear that Garba’s work with the Nigeria youth team had allowed him to flourish:
The coach gives us the freedom to be ourselves, which is the reason why we look so comfortable out there. ... He’s the boss and if we’re smart we’ll listen to what he says, because he knows what he’s talking about.
Similarly, however, the manager too has had high praise for his player, demonstrating a mutual appreciation. Garba, who has now been promoted to managing the U-20 side, hasn’t held back with words of commendation for his young charge, arguing that he could go on to play for any team in the world.
As reported by the Manchester Evening News, he said:
He already has the technique to flourish at the highest level and the only thing the more established players at City could have over him is experience.
At his age, his finishing around the box puts him in a class of his own. He usually scores five goals during our training sessions.
Once you give him the space and allow him to control the ball around the goal area, he can convert three of the five chances he gets. He is that good.
His recent performance for his club will give him even more confidence to step up his game.
Latterly, however, it has been Pellegrini, Iheanacho’s manager at Manchester City, who has been dishing out the praise, even though he has been clear that he is not necessarily a player for the present.
The former Real Madrid manager said, as reported by the Daily Mail:
Kelechi is just 17 years old and he’s a very important player for us in the future. He demonstrated today what he can do in the future. It depends on the way he takes this profession, but I think he’s a good talent.
We’ve not decided yet (what the plan is for him) because it’s not easy. He’s just 17 and sometimes that’s the problem. We’ll see what he will do in the future.
But he’s a very important player for the future for the club.