It’s certainly been a whirlwind 21 months following Ighalo’s arrival in England; the striker has scored a remarkable 36 goals in 76 outings since moving to Vicarage Road in July 2014. A fans’ favourite at Granada, and a scorer of some crucial goals as the Spanish outfit rose through the divisions, by his own admission Ighalo was never prolific in La Liga, and he believes he’s more suited to the English way of playing.
“In Spain I did well, but it was not like this. I’m very strong, I have speed and I’m technical, and using those strengths over here has been great. The Premier League has improved me not only as a player but as a man, as somebody who can inspire people to believe that anything can be achieved by working hard,” he said.
“This is the best league in the world to be in. I’ve played in Spain, I’ve played in Italy and now I’m playing in England, and I think it’s the best league in the world. I’m happy to be doing well here and hopefully I’ll keep doing well. Playing over here has really improved my game, it’s really changed my mentality and it’s taken me to a different level.
“In La Liga you have more tactical teams and it’s more about tika-taka and the football. Here it’s very physical, the tempo is very high and you have to be ready to run for 95 minutes. Playing against all the big teams, you have to be ready to defend always and use every opportunity which comes your way, which we have been doing very well this season.”
Ighalo is little more than six months into the new five-year deal he agreed with the Hornets back in September, and the striker admits he was always keen to prove himself in the Premier League this season, despite some well-documented interest from Chinese outfit Hebei China Fortune, who offered the Nigerian a mind-boggling sum of money to leave Watford last summer.
“I had a couple of offers but the Chinese one was really crazy. I have ambition and my dream was to play in the Premier League. We’d only just achieved promotion, so I couldn’t just leave and go to China,” he said.
“The money was great and people would say I’m crazy for turning it down, but for me, proving myself in the Premier League was the most important thing. I’ve proven I can score goals at this level and people can see what I can do now, so I don’t regret turning down that money one bit.
“It wasn’t easy and I thought about it for three nights without sleeping, but I’m happy I signed a new contact here, I’m happy the fans love me here and the coach is happy with my work, so I want to keep learning and improving every day.
“When a player is doing well he will be linked with other clubs, just like Troy has been too. But that’s normal, I don’t let things like that get into my head because I have a contract here, I’m happy here and I’m playing week-in week-out, so I don’t need anything apart from that.
“I want to help my team go as high as possible. We’re safe now but we want to go further and see if we can end this season as far up the table as we can. It’s been a great season for this club, so we want to make sure it finishes in a positive way as well.”