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The Brand Kelechi Iheanacho

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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Psychologists schooled in the field of perception say that ‘perception   is everything’.  Socrates the Ancient Greek Philosopher is credited to   have stated that ‘first impression matters in a whole lot of ways’.   Similarly, marketing scholars have a high profile rating of products and   services in terms of the brand name.

The US based lifestyles news magazine Forbes in their fine attempt to   define a brand still went back to the earlier point I raised when they   obviously concluded with the truism that Brand is everything.

The company stated in its website thus: ” Marketers realized that they   could create a specific perception in the customers ‘ minds concerning   the qualities and attributes of each non-generic product or   service…put simply, your ‘Brand’ is what your prospect thinks of when   he or she hears your brand name.”

Today’s reflection is on a budding football talent which Nigeria   recently exported to the World’s most highly rated Leagues-ENGLISH   PREMIERSHIP by name MR. KELECHI IHEANACHO who hails from Imo State,   South East of Nigeria.

This young lad has turned out to be one of the finest sporting exports   from Nigeria in this decade. He is creatively prolific in scoring goals   and is very courageous even in the face of World rated top players who   have been on the World Soccer stage long before he KELECHI dreamt of   playing football as a primary school pupil somewhere in Imo State.

He now plies his trade in the top rated ENGLISH PREMIERSHIP side   MANCHESTER CITY.

The Daily Mail of Britain wrote recently that the MANCHESTER CITY   STRIKER is now a hero for kids in his home country, and he has spoken   candidly about his childhood.  This writer believes that if this great   brand is professionally handled then Nigerian Youth would gain immensely   therefrom.

In a published interview this youngster revealed what is actually no   news in terms of the difficult upbringing he underwent. This is because   a greater percentage of Children of Nigeria are born to poor homes since   poverty is so high that nearly 100 million Nigerians live in   excruciating poverty. Football is generally embraced by a lot of   Children from very miserable backgrounds in far flung towns and cities   such as Enugu, Port Harcourt,   Kano and Lagos. Few dozens of these   resilient youth have attained international limelight.  Kelechi   Iheanacho is the latest in the growing list of great sporting talents   that have made it big in the Western World after moving over   from   Nigeria.

The Manchester City striker KELECHI IHEANACHO opened up about his   Nigerian upbringing, admitting: “I couldn’t afford 20p to watch Premier   League football.”

Iheanacho endured a difficult childhood in his home country, but now   serves as a hero figure for kids who crowd round the television to catch   a glimpse of him.

The player lived in such a perilous penury that he couldn’t afford a   ticket to view any of the premierships in any of the many viewing   centers in Nigeria.  The British press reported that public pay a fee of   50 naira, around 20 pence, to watch the games, but Iheanacho reveals he   couldn’t afford that cost as a child.

“We didn't have the money,” he told the Daily Mail. “Maybe after the   game I'd hear the scores. I'd be at home playing football and my   friends would come back after being there to tell me. We didn't have a   television at home.

“Sometimes I watched the Spanish league — it was a bit cheaper, maybe   30 naira. But the Premier League was 50.

“Sometimes I'd watch the Premier League if I found the money, or I'd   go there and beg them to let me in. Or sneak in for the second half and   pay half the money.”

Today this young lad who couldn’t pay his way to watch the Premiership   from his backyard in Owerri Imo State has become a recognizable figure   in World football because of his phenomenal rise and the obvious fact   that the brand Kelechi   Iheanacho is one of the most sought after in   European Soccer industry.

A respected website in the United Kingdom has even rated him as the new   Hero in Manchester City given his prolific goal scoring talents which   has seen him net in 13 goals so far since he broke into the top league   from the academy few Months after arriving from Nigerian where he   alongside his mates won Nigeria the FIFA under 20 World cup.

In what could pass as a great testament on his prowess in the field of   football the news site www.readmancity.com [1] wrote as follows:   “There's a perceived notion that Manchester City have no regard for   their youth team and would much rather spend to fix their problems”.

“At Villa Park on Saturday that notion was totally dispelled an academy   graduate scored a hat-trick, two others made their debuts and one had   another run-out. £296 million – that's the exact figure City have   spent on strikers since Sheikh Mansour's takeover with just three   proving to be a success this season”.

“However with Sergio Aguero having his fair share of injury problems, a   young striker signed and academy graduate signed for nothing may just   prove to be the key difference maker for City in their quest for   trophies”. The news site then added the clincher thus: “ Kelechi   Iheanacho is the name on City fans lips this season and after his Man of   the Match display at Villa Park on Saturday, opposition fans have now   stood up and taken notice. There was more to his performance than just   the three goals at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon, he posed the Villa   defence constant problems with his pace, his link up play and movement   off the ball”.

“He provided Raheem Sterling with an assist for the fourth goal and   proved to be a nightmare to deal with for the beleaguered Villa back   four. His three goals on Saturday epitomised him. Cool, calm, collected   and ready to pounce on the slightest half chance that falls his way.   Having just made five starts, incredibly Kelechi has eight goals and   four assists to his name this season, scoring on average a goal every 44   minutes according to Squakwa “.

The news site which wrote the piece before Kelechi   Iheanacho netted in   additional goals had written thus: “ Iheanacho has staked a serious claim   to be city's second choice striker ahead of misfiring Wilfried Bony,   and with his display at Upton Park and at Carrow Road alongside Sergio   Aguero there have been calls for a return to 4-4-2 such was the impact   made by the youngster”.

The numbers however simply don't do Iheanacho justice. His natural   scoring prowess is just one facet of his game.

“From his instinctive reactions to score the winning goal at Palace [2]   to his first goal yesterday where he pounced on a loose ball in the box,   what has been most impressive is his youthful vibrancy, his pace and   movement off the ball the intelligent tactical runs he's made that has   created space for others and dragged defenders out of place; qualities   he has been displaying ever since his first appearance for the club in   the Pre-season tour of the US in 2014″.

“These outstanding qualities were in full view in City's win at   Norwich [3] and the draw at Upton Park last weekend. With Kevin De   Bruyne injured in midweek and Samir Nasri not due back until March, it   seems the time has come to give Iheanacho the chance show his burgeoning   talent on the European stage and regularly in the Premier League [4].

The website then added: ” It must be noted a lot of credit must be given   to Manuel Pellegrini despite the constant calls for Kelechi to play more   often than not the Chilean has managed Kelechi's game time quite well.   He has not been overplayed and has been kept hungry and on his toes with   the amount of chances he's been given”.

It’s therefore not surprising to wake up and to read the story that this   sensational player will be getting an extended contract with his team.   He has made his modest request through his agents.

The agents have demanded a bumper new Manchester City contract that   will pay the Nigeria starlet a mind-blowing 200,000 pounds-a-week over   five years, AfricanFootball.com can exclusively reveal today.

“He has deserved his keep at City as he is now one of the most   effective forwards in the whole of Europe when you put his game time   against the number of his goals,” a top source argued.

The 19-year-old Nigeria international has netted 13 goals in all   competitions this season with seven of them in the Premier League.

This indeed is Kelechi   Iheanacho's era and one hopes that the brand   Kelechi   Iheanacho has come to stay for some times to come. He is indeed   a pride to us back home in Africa.

Africa is a crisis prone region and Nigeria has found herself at the   center of much of these crises with armed insurgency and terrorism being   some of the most disturbing afflictions.

Tobias Denied with Axel Klein edited a well written book  on the theme:   “Fragile peace, State failure, violence and development in crisis   region”  in which they highlighted some of the basic challenges of   development that Nigeria faces which I think a great brand like Kelechi   Iheanacho if galvanised can propel positive trends amongst hundreds- of-   thousands of youths in Nigeria who grew up in similar squalid   existential condition but  are caught up in the poverty circle unable to   unbind themselves from these chains of poverty and want.

The book stated thus: “War and crisis countries are characterized by   intractable structures of violence that stand in the way of prospect for   peace…although the wide circulation of small arms is not a cause of   conflicts in the narrower sense, it does indirectly influence the course   of conflicts, the splintering of warring parties and shifts in the   balance of power among them…as the state is not able to curb crime,   sometimes even directly involved in it, it extensively fails as a   guarantor of law and order in many countries”.

The writers of this book also asserted that: ” Seen against this   background, prosperous individuals increasingly avail themselves of   private security services. Companies as well as governments and rebel   groups hire growing numbers of mercenaries with the result that we can   speak of a 'privatization of security' analogous to the   'privatization of violence' by rebels, organized crime and terror   organization.”

The Muhammadu   Buhari's administration although battling to defeat Boko   Haram terrorists should work out modalities that are sustainable using   the Youth ministry to mobilise the Nigerian Youth to take interest in   developing their innate sporting talents and governments at every level   should provide the enabling environment for functional sporting   facilities to be sited across the geopolitical zones so people can be   guided in the grooming of their talents which if fully blossomed and   exported to the more prosperous West can serve as foreign revenue making   avenues for Nigeria. The brand Kelechi   Iheanacho is beneficial on the   long run.

Written b y Emmanuel Onwubiko , Head of Human R ights Writers A ssociation of Nigeria

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