The 24-year-old Nigerian and Leicester City striker won the monthly award ahead of Manchester United defender Luke Shaw, Brighton’s Leandro Trossard, Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen, Tottenham striker Harry Kane, West Ham’s Jesse Lingard, Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez, and Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier.
The striker who witnessed a nosedive in his form and football career while at Manchester City especially during the 2016-2017 season joined Leicester in 2017 for a transfer fee worth €27.70 million.
Initially, the football star found it difficult to establish himself at the Premier League club as he often plays second fiddle to the club’s main striker Jamie Vardy.
However, during the 2020-2021 season, Kelechi Iheanacho became fortunate when two of Leicester City’s main forwards – James Maddison and Harvey Barnes became injured. Due to their injuries, Leicester’s coach Brendan Rodgers had to change his formation to accommodate Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho in his starting eleven.
The two strikers have been operating very well together which saw the Nigerian striker made 5 consecutive appearances for the first time in his club career. His form at Leicester City was crowned today, April 2, with the Premier League player of the month of March award.
“I’m so pleased and honored to win this award. It’s great to be recognized, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of my team-mates and the manager,” Iheanacho said.
“I’m really enjoying playing at the minute and hopefully I can push on and help the team to finish as high as possible this season.”
Brendan Rodgers shower praises on Kelechi Iheanacho
The manager of Leicester City, Brendan Rodgers was filled with praises for Kelechi Iheanacho who he described as a fantastic and talented player. He said he is very delighted that the Nigerian striker is now playing at the top of his game.
“I am delighted for him because he is such a conscientious guy, such an honest guy, and as you can see now, a very talented player”, Brendan Rodgers told Sky Sports.
“If you think of his journey, he has been the young player at Manchester City after being the player of the tournament at the Under-17 World Cup. He breaks in, scores some goals, but there are gifted players ahead of him so it is difficult to get that game time.
“He then makes a move to Leicester where he has Jamie Vardy here, one of the top strikers in the Premier League. Plus, you have the adaptation of leaving Manchester City and coming to another club so that is always going to take that bit of time.
“I know when I came here that there were probably times when there were grumbles if he was playing but he has very quickly won over people. That is just through hard work, resilience, and talent. What you are seeing is a young player at the top of his game.”
So far this season, Kelechi Iheanacho has made 16 Premier League appearances in which he scored 6 goals, most of his goals in the league this season came from his last 5 league games. He has scored a total number of 12 goals and provided 5 assists in 28 games in all competitions for Leicester City this season.
Brendan Rodgers attributed Kelechi Iheanacho improved form this season to the continuity of games he has been having. The coach said immediately the Nigeria international started having more confidence in himself, his form improved.
“I remember talking to Ian Rush when I was at Liverpool and him telling me that no matter how a striker is feeling, whether he is tired in the game or tired in training, when he hits the back of the net it gives him confidence, it gives him energy. I never forgot that”, Rodgers noted.
“It is like any striker, if you can get a rhythm of games and you can gain that confidence within that rhythm then you are going to play the game to a higher level. I think it is just that continuity of games that has really helped him to improve.”