ODION IGHALO has issued a heartening message of hope to football fans everywhere: We will beat coronavirus and be united again.
The frightening spread of the deadly Covid-19 bug prompted the suspension of English football until at least April 30.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
The FA, Premier League and EFL are all desperate to finish the current season — but only when “it is safe and possible to do so”.
Clubs are closed, players are in lockdown at home and there are fears this season may still end up becoming null and void.
However, Manchester United loan striker Ighalo is positive the grave health crisis will be overcome and fans allowed back inside stadiums to cheer on their heroes once again.
The Nigerian, 30, said: “Of course I miss football, like other players and fans. But lives matter.
“Staying safe and alive is our biggest game in the world now — and we all have a role to play in it.
“Football has to take a back seat all over the planet at the moment and that is very understandable.
“Coronavirus is affecting all countries, across all continents. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this pandemic and to the families who have lost loved ones.
“But I know we will beat coronavirus and I urge people to remain positive.”
'TURN THE TIDE'
All games in the Premier League, EFL, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship are currently postponed — as is every fixture in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The FA has also agreed the current season — due to end on June 1 — can be “extended indefinitely” as football tries to come to terms with the pandemic.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists the UK can “turn the tide” on coronavirus in 12 weeks.
And devout Christian Ighalo said: “We all celebrate together when a goal is scored in football and we can all share in the optimism that we will soon celebrate the end of Covid-19.
“Very soon we will all be together to do the things that unite us in this beautiful game. This tough time will pass and light will shine upon us all again — to share in the love and happiness football brings.”
There have been almost 250,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with more than 10,000 deaths.
FIVE GREAT LOANS FOR IGHALO TO FOLLOW
(Sampdoria-Spurs, Dec ’97-May ’98)
The German World Cup winner was already the darling of White Hart Lane after smashing in 30 goals in all competitions during his first spell in the 1994-95 campaign.
Klinsmann returned from Italy in 1997 and scored nine goals in 15 Prem games, including four in a 6-2 trouncing of Wimbledon.
It was enough to keep Spurs up as they finished in 14th — just FOUR points above doomed Bolton.
(R Sociedad-Everton, Jan ’05-May ’05)
The poorly Arsenal boss may be cheered when he thinks back to his playing days.
David Moyes showed he had a nose for a good deal when he took the 22-year-old midfielder on loan in the January window.
The Spaniard helped guide the Toffees to the fourth Champions League spot, finishing three points ahead of Liverpool, before signing a permanent deal at Goodison.
(Chelsea-WBA, Aug ’12-May ’13)
A season-long loan with Steve Clarke’s West Brom really put Belgian striker Lukaku on the footballing map in England.
Out of favour at Chelsea under Roberto Di Matteo, he piled in with 17 goals in 35 league games to help Albion finish eighth.
But it was not enough to win over Jose Mourinho — back at the Bridge for his second spell in charge — and Lukaku was loaned out to Everton in summer 2013.
(Helsingborgs-Manchester United, Jan ’07-Mar ’07)
The Swedish superstar’s influence in the dressing room was priceless — despite scoring just three goals in three months at Old Trafford.
In his autobiography, Sir Alex Ferguson dubbed Larsson, 35 at the time, an “aristocrat” and added: “He looked a real United player, with his movement and courage.”
Fergie wanted him to extend his stay but Larsson turned it down.
(R Madrid-Bolton, Aug ’02-May ’03)
After five years at Real Madrid, where he picked up two Champ-ions League winners medals, the versatile Campo moved from the warmth of the Spanish capital to the drizzle of Bolton.
His experience helped the Trotters stay up, finishing just TWO points above the drop zone.
Boss Sam Allardyce made sure he signed Campo — who could play in defence and midfield — on a permanent basis in the summer.
In the UK, almost 180 people had died from almost 4,000 cases by last night.
Ighalo lost his beloved big sister Mary in December — days before the outbreak began in China — when she collapsed suddenly at home in Canada, though it was not virus related. She was only 43.
Just over a month later, Ighalo sealed his loan move from Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua on the last day of the January transfer window.
But the deal was almost KO’d by the killer virus, which started in the city of Wuhan before its rapid spread across China and now the planet.
Ighalo, like the rest of his United team-mates, is now training at home in line with government and club guidelines, while top brass from the FA, Prem and EFL are in discussions to “find ways of resuming the 2019-20 season”.
He remains isolated in his Manchester home, while his family are in London.
The ex-Watford striker, who has been a hit at Old Trafford with four goals in eight appearances, added: “We are all working individually away from the training ground and staying fit at home.
“Most importantly, let’s stay safe. If we all follow the hygiene procedures we shall win this fight against Covid-19.”
However, with the virus continuing to spread across Britain, Ighalo does not want to even consider his contract situation at United — with his loan deal due to expire this summer.
He said: “Talking about other things now will not only be selfish but terribly insensitive. I don’t even think about it.
“The challenge before us now is not a football one, but a global one.
“You can’t put football before health challenges. What matters right now is to keep safe and pray for those battling with the virus to recover fully.
“This is another reminder for us to share love in this world. Continue to show kindness to one another because a problem facing one is a problem to all.”
CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – BE IN THE KNOW
Get the latest coronavirus news, facts and figures from around the world – plus essential advice for you and your family.
To receive our Covid-19 newsletter in your inbox every tea time, sign up here.
To follow us on Facebook, simply 'Like' our Coronavirus page.
Source: Read Full Article