Manchester United new boy Odion Ighalo has described Troy Deeney as one of the ‘nicest guys’ he’s ever played with and given his side of the story after the Watford striker revealed they almost had an almighty bust-up back in 2016.
In a typically candid interview with The United Stand at the weekend, Deeney explained how he lost his head’ with his then Watford team-mate Ighalo when the Hornets took on Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils at Old Trafford towards the end of the 2015/16 campaign.
It was Ighalo’s first time playing at the Theatre of Dreams and the Nigerian, a lifelong United fan, was so desperate to score that he passed up a golden opportunity to square to Deeney in the second half when the Watford captain was staring at an open goal.
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Juan Mata went on to find a winner with a stunning late free-kick and Deeney was so furious that he drove home himself as he feared there would be an altercation if he travelled back with Ighalo.
Asked about United’s January loan signing, Deeney said: ‘He trains well, he’s no hassle, genuinely I bet if you asked any person at United they’d say he’s no hassle. Absolutely sick, nice guy, genuinely he’s a Man United fan as well.
‘When we used to play, we played one year I ended up losing my head with him. He had like four, five shots and then there was one – I remember Fosu-Mensah was playing, I think he was making his debut – and basically [Ighalo] got put in behind and literally all he had to do was square it and I’m rolling it in from eight yards out.
‘And then he shot and it went wide. And he knew. You know when you know, because he looked at me and was like, “Ah”. Like, this is gonna get sticky.
‘And I remember just going in at half-time like, “If that’s the game we’re playing then take me off innit, because I thought we were here to win, I don’t really care who scores”.
‘I was in that much of a mood – because Mata scored and United won 1-0 – that I drove home. I didn’t get back on the plane.
‘I literally said to the manager: “You put me on this plane, there’s gonna be problems, so let me just calm down” and I drove from Manchester to Watford. And this was like a Tuesday or Wednesday night.
‘He definitely wanted to score. We spoke about it the day after, and I was just like, “Dude, we’ve just gotta win and if you’d let me score in that instance, Man United would have had to come out, you’d have had three of four other chances to score”.
‘But he built that game up so much. That was the game, he’s a Man United fan, a lot of his family in Africa are Man United fans. So that was the game, in the same way Villa is that game for me.
‘It was never going to get physical between me and him or anything like that, it was just genuinely a pure frustration, like “Dude, you’re better than that”. But he will be good for Man United and honestly I can see them keeping him next year. I don’t see them getting rid.’
Asked about the match during a chat with ELEGBETE TV , Ighalo insisted he and Deeney ‘never had a problem’ and the situation was resolved at Watford’s training ground the following day.
‘He was the best guy, you know… Troy Deeney was just saying what happened in that game, you understand?’ Ighalo explained.
‘I’m a Manchester United fan which everybody knows, right from when I was young so my first game against Manchester United at Old Trafford… I was a bit tense and I was a bit hype. I want to do well in that game, I want to score against a team I’ve been supporting from young.
‘So that game I did everything to score but I could not. There was one or two chances. God knows I was supposed to pass that ball but I tried to shoot and see if I could score but I missed the chance so he was not happy about that.
‘But we didn’t really talk about that until the next day then the coach called us and said: “What happened?”. We lost the game because Mata scored a free-kick and it finished Man United 1-0 Watford so we’re not really happy.
‘The next day the coach called both of us and said, “What happened”, we had a bit of an argument. We don’t have a problem. Troy Deeney is a good guy, he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve played with. He says it how it is. He’s not a guy that beats around the bush. If he’s not happy, he says what he feels.
‘So I know that game he was not happy, I know I was supposed to pass in that game but the emotions were high. I know any time we played against Aston Villa he wants to score, he can die to score, so it’s just the same thing as me when I wanted to score against Manchester United.
‘But he’s a good guy. That day he was not happy but we talked about it and that was how it ended the next day. We continued playing and training as normal and I’ve never had a problem with Troy Deeney or anyone. We never insulted each other, never confronted each other about that. He was not happy about that game but the next day we talked about it and that’s it.’
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