Nigeria’s rave of the moment, Kelechi Iheanacho says that despite exploding to the limelight at Manchester City this season, there’s no chance of him taking his place in the first team under Pep Guardiola for granted.
He’d better not, as the Catalan has been equal parts brilliant and ruthless since assuming the reins at the Etihad, although Iheanacho appears to have blossomed under his watch.
After his breakout campaign last season under Manuel Pellegrini where he scored 14 goals mostly from the bench, Iheanacho has consolidated his position in the team this term with a string of impressive displays that have earned him plaudits from fans the world over.
“I’m not letting all the praise get to my head because I still have a lot to learn in this game,” Iheanacho, 19, told BBC Sport.
“It’s been a very progressive period for me at the club, but playing alongside stars like Sergio [Aguero], Yaya [Toure] and other great players provides a big chance to keep working hard.
“I’m definitely learning, quietly listening and watching others closely every day – I know in doing that I will achieve bigger things in my career.”
His steady growth had him rewarded with a bumper £85,000 per week deal at the start of the season, and the former Fifa U17 MVP admits he has a lot of work to do if he’s to cement a place in the first team.
“We have experienced players in the team and as someone who is learning and improving, I am happy to take my chance when the manager calls,” Iheanacho said.
“Our manager has confidence in me and has been encouraging me. All I want to do right now is to keep learning under him and work hard for the club.”
Despite a conversion rate that makes him the most dangerous marksman in the Premier League, the young striker says it’s all down to teamwork.
“I score goals not just because I am playing up front but because I get to play in a fantastic team,” said Iheanacho.
“Our defenders and midfielders supply the passes and support for me to deliver, so it is a collective effort.”
Nigeria will be banking on his superb form in the crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier against Zambia’s Chipolopolo in Ndola October 9.