Ndidi on UCL, Rodgers and Iheanacho

Ndidi on UCL, Rodgers and Iheanacho
Leicester's Wilfred Ndidi celebrates with the trophy after winning the English FA Cup final between Chelsea FC and Leicester City

by Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Jun 01, 2021. 15:00

Nigeria and Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi has spoken of his club’s FA Cup success, missing out on qualification for the UEFA Champions League, the influence of Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers and the form of teammate Kelechi Iheanacho.

Ndidi, who is currently in Austria with the Nigerian national team in preparation for their international friendly against Cameroon scheduled for Friday evening, helped Leicester win their first-ever FA Cup title in the 2020-21 season, though the campaign will also have been tinged with disappointment given the Foxes’ failure to qualify for the Champions League.

“People with different opinions. Every player wants to play in the Champions League if they have the opportunity but if you don’t have the opportunity, you see a Cup, you have to grab it,” Ndidi told SuperSport’s Monday Night Football programmed, as quoted by All Nigeria Soccer.

“We played the [FA Cup] final before the Premier League matches, so we actually grabbed that one and we hoped for qualifying for the Champions League.

“It’s not like we were just hoping to qualify for the Champions League and just let the FA Cup just go away like that.

“I’m very grateful that we grabbed that one but it wasn’t possible for us to go to the Champions League.”

The defensive midfielder also weighed in on Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers: “[He] is a very good coach, he is tactical.

“He’s a lovable coach, the players love him because he is not just a coach, he’s also like a father figure to us players.

“He’s very friendly, smiles, his door is always open for players. He has actually improved my game psychologically and on the pitch, understanding the game.

“He made me understand the position better and what he really needs me to do. He just wants me to be Wilfred Ndidi, allow [Youri] Tielemans be Tielemans, Kelechi [Iheanacho] be Kelechi.

“I cannot do everything but I just need to do my own. Those things are actually adding to my game and then trying to make me better in so many aspects of the game.

“Everything boils down to the system Rodgers really wants for his players and the team.”

Ndidi’s Leicester and Super Eagles teammate Kelechi Iheanacho enjoyed a superb second half of the campaign, having finally been given a consistent run of playing time in the first XI.

“We all know Kelechi Iheanacho is a very good player. Right from the U17 he can score goals, he can make assists,” explained Ndidi.

“As a footballer not getting much time playing can actually reduce your confidence but I’m very happy he’s back.

“I’ve always tried to encourage him, he’s always giving his best in training but you could see Jamie Vardy is always there, running round the pitch.

“I just feel if Kelechi had the chance he would have actually done something that time when there was no chance for him to actually showcase but now he’s doing everything I expected of him and we all know the kind of player he is and I’m very proud of him and happy to play in the same team with him.”

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