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Contract: Kelechi Iheanacho risks two years in American jail

*Details of how he entered into a deep trouble

*Ticking time bomb in his hands

By Olajide Fashikun, Olayinka Elebute, Oluwole Francis, Shedrack Duru

Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho is facing problems in the United States of America after allegations were made against him that he may have misled a court in Pennsylvania.

Iheanacho, 20, is trapped in legal battles with his previous representatives, American-based First Eleven Management, after pulling out of a contract with them two years ago to sign with Stellar, who look after Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale.

Kelechi Iheanacho, centre, with Henry Galeano, left, and Robert Zanicky, right
Kelechi Iheanacho, centre, with Henry Galeano, left, and Robert Zanicky, right

Iheanacho filed pleadings that denied he knew or spent time with Henry Galeano, who separately claims he is his former agent.

The Nigerian — who is hoping to move to Leicester this week — claimed he believed Galeano was an alias used by First Eleven Management co-owner Robert Zanicky. New Yorker Galeano was the company’s registered Fifa-licensed agent.

The American court have been handed a series of photographs and documents that will require an explanation from the Nigerian left-legged international.

The crucial legal question for Iheanacho will be whether he did more than merely meet Galeano or happened to be with him on occasions. It certainly seems clear they at least met.

Galeano in one of the pictures tabled before the court was located by his side as he signed a new Manchester City contract shortly after his 18th birthday in October 2014. This definitely puts a lie on his testimony before the Pennsylvania court.

In another picture, Kelechi Iheanacho was spotted with Henry Galeano and Robert Zanicky both of the same agency that managed his Manchester City contract.

Yet in another picture, Kelechi Iheanacho took a snap shot with Henry Galeano and Robert Zanicky at the Under-20s World Cup in 2015. Four other pictures before the court, all to prove the fact that Iheancho lied to the court included

  • One in Minneapolis during Manchester City’s 2014 pre-season tour;
  • Another in Columbus while training with MLS club Columbus Crew that same year;
  • Another in New Zealand in 2015 while representing Nigeria at the Under-20 World Cup;
  • Other photos show Iheanacho seemingly having fun with Galeano and Zanicky in a restaurant as well as at a theme park.

The legal position is further complicated because Galeano — in a signed and sworn affidavit submitted to the court — claims that he spent “hundreds of hours” with the player. Every of the said hour will have to be paid for if Iheanacho is found guilty;

Under Pennsylvanian Law, if it is found Iheanacho knowingly tried to mislead the court, he could be charged with unsworn falsification — which, if found guilty, carries a penalty of up to two years in prison.

Is Pep buying a £25million bomb in Kelechi Iheanacho?
Is Pep buying a £25million bomb in Kelechi Iheanacho?

Ticking time bomb in his hands: And with an impending £25million move to Leicester on the cards, his new club will want assurances that his case in the US is being properly handled and will not become a ticking time-bomb.

In his court affidavit, Galeano said: “For the avoidance of doubt, Iheanacho and I have spent hundreds of hours together.”

He also added: “Robert Zanicky never used my name as an alias.” Galeano claims he became Iheanacho’s official Fifa-licensed agent in July 2013 after both men signed a Representative Agreement.

Leicester are hoping to wrap up a deal for the forward — who has been told by boss Pep Guardiola he can leave City — but have been bogged down over the player’s image rights and personal terms.

One will tend to wonder in the little space of his career that is yet to blossom, many ills/conflicts have refused to go away from the affairs of this ‘national asset’, right from his wonderful display at the Under17 world cup in the United Arab Emirate in 2013, through to his professional career beginning at Manchester City Football Club in England.

With the benefit of hindsight for curious minds like mine, a lot of folks trivialise Patrick Omorodion’s article titled ‘Greed of a father and an agent’ Vanguard Newspaper, 29 December 2013. This untamed appetite for always wanting more that was found in the fathers’ DNA is now fully manifesting itself in different shades in the operations of the lad himself, allowing his handlers in connivance with his father – James Iheanacho – exploit his lust not to his own (player) benefits but theirs. Unfortunately there is always enough for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed.

Kelechi Iheanacho with Henry Galeano and Robert Zanicky at the Under-20s World Cup
Kelechi Iheanacho with Henry Galeano and Robert Zanicky at the Under-20s World Cup

The Beginning: From 2013 to 2017, Kelechi Promise Iheancho has had five different agents. Starting from (a) Graham Daniel Heydon and his partner Chinedu, in which the father cashed in €5,000 (Five Thousand Euro), to (b) Femi Kingston Olaniran and World In Motion who assisted in paying the cost of laying to rest the late mother of the player – Mercy Iheanacho, who died of a mysterious sickness.

To (c) the American Henry Galeano and First Eleven Management whose financial commitment might be upped compared to others, (d) Raymond Hassey of the same sport company and now (e) David Manasseh and Stellar Group, the biggest sport agency in the UK.

Note: The two agencies in (d) and (e) are locked in litigation with Kelechi Iheanacho for over one and a half year.

James Iheanacho reminds me about the father of Lonzo Ball, La Var Ball (readers might do well to google him), so notorious and clever was James he maneuvered Graham refusing the FC Porto deal, refused to sign for Femi citing he was bereaved but allowed Kelechi and his uncle to sign, while Henry got his paper works tightly knitted and right.

When the player turned 18, the Raymond Hassey contract came in force, so also the conspiracies, intrigues, lies and greed that has since unsettled the player because he made himself somewhat an object only to be used.

Litigation Drama: For those who have inside knowledge of the transfer of Kelechi Iheanacho to Manchester City, there is a familiar figure a certain Robert Calvin Zanicky aka Bob, a Director at First Eleven Management who was invited to meet James Iheanacho by Dan Uni KaKwi (a diploma holder from the National Institute of Sport, Lagos and had his internship in the Technical Department of the Nigeria Football Federation, though on his facebook page (his dearest platform) referred to himself as former coach of National Under 15).

In 2011, Robert Calvin Zanicky had a no contest bargain in a case of corruption of minor which was public knowledge to everyone; James Iheanacho, Kelechi, Dan, Garba Mohammed Yaro-Yaro and City football officials involved in closing the deal except for those who know him as Bob.

At which point Dan working with First Eleven was promised some payment and an opportunity to further his coaching education oversea so as to obtain a license in UEFA, while James was to be paid £350,000 as family bonus by First Eleven Management.

The promises to these individuals were partly fulfilled with Dan receiving some payment and James receiving £175,000 which is 50% of the family share but by the time Kelechi turned 18 years, Dan had not been settled to go for his coaching course, also little did James know his son, Kelechi, has been tutored unconsciously in mastering his trait of greed.

Kelechi vehemently protested First Eleven Management paying the balance of £175,000 into his father’s account, stating “it is family money not my father’s money, after all I am the one playing the football, I will see to it that everyone of my family is settled” a shift in how James actually sees Kelechi as ego’m (meaning in Igbo my money) and not a football player or son.

The Actors: James having been at cross purpose with First Eleven Management started accusing the sport agency of stealing from him little unaware his ‘disciple-son’ had collected the money. As they say misery loves company, Dan was displeased with First Eleven on one part and James on the other end, the conspiracy is now set to be hatched.

James in his usual manner still in the dark that Kelechi has been paid began mounting pressure on Kelechi not to work with First Eleven Management, breathing and threatening with curses, while Dan was active on facebook labelling the Sport Agency as fraud.

From the activities of Dan on facebook, came a sudden intrusion of Kelechi’s friend in the UK, in the person of Kingsley Ogbodo, former player of Enugu Rangers (as known formerly) with a brief playing career in Hungary, who listened and had audience with Dan, then decided he would not be played for a fool like Dan.

According to Andy Stanley ‘greed is not a financial issue; It’s a heart issue’. With unceasing pressure on Kelechi from his father, Kingsley suggested to Kelechi join a bigger Sport agency who will pay what his dad expected from First Eleven; of course, such gesture from the big sport agency will not come for free, he must be there client.

The next big question is how will they get out of Ray Hassey/First Eleven Management? The puzzle they thought was simple but illogical. The claim was to say Robert Calvin Zanicky impersonated Henry Galeano when Dan brought him to Nigeria and that they were also defrauded. An argument that could not be sustained because Henry was the intermediary that signed the Manchester City contract met by all including Kennedy Ezenwere, the President of Taye Academy. Then, the argument for fraud, which was difficult to prove, been made aware that under the law he who alleges must prove.

The only window left to exploit was the Robert Calvin Zanicky no contest case on corruption of minors in 2011. Carefully orchestrated, James Iheancho and Dan reached out to Tunde Liadi of Sporting Life and another journalist of www.africanfootball.com to publish the article which was captioned “Iheanacho’s agent slammed for sexual molestation” 27th September 2015; Which became an excuse for the player to breach his contract with First Eleven Management, asserting that his name has been associated with such mess, feigning ignorance that he was not aware of the case against Robert Zanicky but the testimony of Dan the chief conspirator states otherwise.

Since the article surfaced Dan has been on the payroll of the Iheanachos from his house rent to the promise of getting him a coaching course oversea but the conflict created is not such that will go anytime soon. From the case in the English FA arbitration, to the endorsement contract litigation in the US and a libel suit that may soon follow, could these all be how greed can ruin a promising career? Iheancho is supposed to be our national asset, who with his peers were indiscriminately given national awards by the previous administration who had a knack of conferring honour easily to the deserved good and the questionable bad, such as age cheats, looters of treasury, forgers of certificate etc.

Well said by Vikrant Parsai “he who wants everything every time will lose everything any time”

Let those who have the ears of this king, drum him the consequence of greed maybe we might save him from the danger of oblivion inching closer to his gate.

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