New Chicago Fire Designated Player signing Kennedy Igboananike has revealed that head coach Frank Yallop was the reason for him choosing the MLS club over a potential Premier League move.
The Nigerian forward, who also holds Swedish citizenship, scored 22 goals in 62 total appearances during two seasons at AIK, before opting to make the move across the Atlantic this week.
Aged 25, his performances for the Stockholm-based club were also reported to have attracted the attention of both Queens Park Rangers and Southampton, with a proposed move to the Saints even collapsing last season, but the front man stresses that it was Fire boss Yallop who convinced him to make the switch to Chicago rather than wait for a winter transfer to England.
“He’s the reason why I’m here,” Igboananike told the club’s official website. “He’s a nice guy and he taught me everything about the league. I’m here to help and do everything in my power to make sure everything works out for everyone here.
“I’m coming here to fulfill a dream, help the team win back their glories, score a lot of goals and just be happy.”
Igboananike has in fact been a long-time target for Yallop, with the former Ipswich Town striker even tracking him when he was turning out for Djurgårdens, before following his development upon his move to rivals AIK in November 2012.
“[I saw him] when he was with Djurgårdens and in his move to AIK,” he said. “I liked what I saw then, he went to a bigger club in AIK, continued scoring and last season maybe wasn’t the greatest of goal scoring for him but he played a lot of games.
“I think he’s set up to do well in this league,” he continued. “It’s not really defenses that are on top in this league, it’s about goal scoring and free play and he excels in that type of environment.”
Igboananike’s most notable asset is his pace, which he’s hoping will help make his transition to the American game a straightforward one from the get-go.
“People say I’m fast and, yeah, I’m fast”, he said. “The tempo [here] is fast as well, so they always like to give the balls to the forwards. I think that is my kind of game, get the ball and try to score some goals.
“I don’t feel pressure,” he added. “My job is to make a goal, work for the team, fight hard and play with heart. Playing with heart, with the love of the fans, everything, that will push everybody to get better in the game. My job is to help and make it as good as I can.”