Odion Ighalo has opened up about the financial aspect of the game in a chat with Omasports, stating that “footballers play the game for money.”
After playing on loan for Manchester United, Ighalo made a move to Saudi Arabia in 2021. He first joined Al Shabab and then switched to Al Hilal in 2022, where he scored an impressive 31 goals in just 40 matches.
The 34-year-old Nigerian admitted that money plays a big role in football, especially as he nears the end of his career. He said, “We play football because of the money. If it comes, why not take it? When we were young in Ajegunle, we played for the passion and didn’t care about money. But in my age now, I am rounding up my career – in a year or two – I have to play for the money. I have played for passion all my life.”
To illustrate his point, the former Watford striker mentioned Cristiano Ronaldo, who recently moved to Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia. Ronaldo reportedly earns over £160 million per year, making him the highest-paid player in the world. Ighalo explained, At the end of it all, it’s the money. Look at the people going to Saudi Arabia. Ronaldo has made 100 times the amount I have made in my life. Yet he still went to Saudi. You want to tell me it’s for passion? It’s for the money.”
The chat with Ighalo offers a glimpse into the changing nature of professional football. While he values the passion that ignited his career, he recognizes the importance of financial considerations as players reach the later stages of their playing career.