How Kelechi Iheanacho joined Okocha, Odemwingie, Ighalo in PL player of the month club

Kelechi Iheanacho Leicester City

Nigeria international Kelechi Iheanacho has bagged his first ever Premier League player of the month award.

The Leicester City forward bagged the award for the month of March after scoring five goals in three league appearances for the Foxes in the lead-up to the international break last month, including his first Premier League hat-trick against Sheffield United.

Iheanacho, whose partnership with Jamie Vardy came to the fore in the absence of James Maddison and Harvey Barnes, also scored league goals in the 2-1 win at Brighton and the 1-1 draw against Burnley.

The 24-year-old was picked ahead of Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen, Tottenham striker Harry Kane, West Ham’s Jesse Lingard, Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez, Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier, Manchester United defender Luke Shaw and Brighton’s Leandro Trossard.

Iheanacho has scored six goals in 16 Premier League appearances for Leicester City this season.

His five goals in March came from only 11 shots in the Premier League, two more than any other player, according to OptaJoe. He is the fourth Nigerian to win the player of the month award after Jay-Jay Okocha, Peter Odemwingie and Odion Ighalo.

Odemwingie, who starred for West Bromwich Albion, won the award in September 2010, April 2011, and February 2012.

Okocha, an ex-Bolton Wanderers star, won the award in November 2003.

Ighalo bagged the award in December 2015 wearing the Watford shirt.

With his first Premier League hat-trick against Sheffield United on March 14, Iheanacho also joined the exclusive club of Nigerians who have scored at least a hat-trick in the EPL. Among them are Nwankwo Kanu, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Odemwingie and Efan Ekoku.

Meanwhile, Leicester, third in the table, host league leaders Manchester City, who had won both the player and manager awards for the past two months through Ilkay Gundogan and Pep Guardiola on Saturday, April 3.