Ighalo following in footsteps of ‘idol’ Rooney as Man Utd prepare for reunion with record goalscorer

The Red Devils are set to face a familiar face on Thursday when they take in an FA Cup fifth-round encounter with Derby at Pride Park

Odion Ighalo admits Wayne Rooney is his “idol”, with the Manchester United loanee preparing to lock horns with the Red Devils’ all-time leading goalscorer in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are set to take in a reunion with a familiar face when they head to Pride Park on Thursday for a meeting with Derby.

Rooney will be looking to help the Rams down his former employers, allowing the Championship hopefuls to progress into the quarter-finals, but United have their sights set on major silverware.

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Ighalo, who is looking to play his way into contention for a permanent switch to Old Trafford, is among those eager to impress.

The Nigerian striker, who grew up a United supporter, is also looking forward to once again lining up against a modern-day legend that he sought inspiration from when forging his own career.

“Wayne Rooney is always an idol, like many players at United,” Ighalo told the Red Devils’ official website.

“He’s a good guy. He is a fighter on the pitch, he fights until the end, from the start until the finish. He’s somebody I’ve seen that never gives up in the game, and he’s a good goalscorer.

“A little chance, a little space, he’s going to score. He can shoot from outside, he can score in the box, he can score from anywhere.

“He’s a great player. Good techniques, he has a good shot, good runs and, when Derby County have Wayne Rooney in their team, it gives them more confidence because he has done a lot in football and in England.”

If United can see off Derby, then they will book a date with Norwich in the last eight and they would be joined at that stage by the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Leicester and Arsenal.

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Ighalo is determined to keep Solskjaer’s side in the hunt for tangible success in 2020, having watched on from afar in the past as the Red Devils enjoyed many memorable battles with fellow heavyweights.

He added: “I watched Man Utd a lot, their rivalry with Arsenal for the FA Cup.

“So it’s a great thing watching it and now playing in the FA Cup, which I did with Watford but now, hopefully, I want to try to go far and win it, if possible for me, to crown my success here with the team.”

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