The Manchester City youngster has impressed for the youth teams, and is determined to move up quickly to the senior squad.
“Your aim is to play in the first team as soon as possible, is it?”
The ‘yes’ came almost before the question had finished. “I can’t wait,” he added.
In all that came before, Kelechi Iheanacho’s answers were thoughtful and considered. So his burning desire to make the Manchester City first team stuck out.
It is no less a quality though, and the young Nigerian is not brash about his chances. He exhales hard when it is suggested there may be a connection between his appearances for the Under-21s and Manuel Pellegrini coming to watch the side, as if it may overwhelm him.
“I don’t know,” he professed.
“Maybe the coach likes the way I play and the way I do things, maybe I have to put in more and work on the things they want me to do on the pitch.
“I hope he sees good qualities in me and I hope I will be in the first team soon.”
Iheanacho featured for City last summer on their pre-season tour.
Iheanacho first caught Pellegrini’s eye on the first-team summer tour last year, scoring against AC Milan and turning in performances that left the coach impressed.
“Kelechi is just 17 years old and he’s a very important player for us in the future,” the boss said at the time. “It depends on the way he takes this profession, but I think he’s a good talent.”
An explosive start to life at City soon fizzled out. Work permit regulations forced the 18-year-old to keep his fitness at MLS side Columbus Crew. When he did arrive in Manchester, he was injured ten minutes into the UEFA Youth League game with Schalke in February.
Since his return Iheanacho has made his mark, scoring three in four games, including goals in both of the finals he has played in.
Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates with manager Jason Wilcox after scoring the first goal for Manchester City in the second leg of the Youth Cup final.