Odion Ighalo dedicated his first Manchester United goal to his late sister Mary at Old Trafford on Thursday night.
The former Watford striker reacted quickest to Juan Mata’s knock back at the far post, slotting home from close range to give United a 2-0 lead against Europa League opponents Club Brugge.
Ighalo, making his first start for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, then turned towards the crowd and pointed to the sky before lifting his shirt and revealing a photo of his sister which included the date of her passing.
Diehard United fan Mary Atole collapsed in her home in Canada on the morning of December 12 whilst getting her children ready for school. She was just 43 when she died.
Speaking to the Sun earlier this month, Ighalo described his heartache over his sister’s sudden passing.
“I feel very emotional because it has not really struck me that my sister is gone forever and I am never going to see her again,” he admitted.
“Sometimes when I am alone and I just remember her, I have one sharp pain in my heart.
“My twin sister, Akhere, will call me, crying, saying she misses her and, sometimes when I am alone, I cry too.
“It is a very painful loss but I am trying to be strong as a man.”
Ighalo, the first Nigerian to ever play for the Red Devils, also revealed that his sister ‘prayed’ he would one day sign for United – a moment she sadly never got to witness.
He added: “She always prayed I would sign for United. Even when she came to watch me in the Premier League playing for Watford she hoped I would join United.
“The painful part for me is that I now HAVE signed for United, but she is not here to see it.
“However, I know she is up there watching me.”
Ighalo – a shock deadline day signing from Shanghai Shenhua – played the full 90 minutes as the Red Devils thrashed the Belgian outfit 5-0, with Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay and Fred (2) also on target.
The result sees Solskjaer’s side safely progress to the last 16 of the competition with a 6-1 aggregate win.