My Ikechi Was Bursting with Pride to Pull on the Blue of His Country; EXCLUSIVE NEW SCOTLAND HERO STARTED PLAYING IN GLASGOW HOUSING SCHEME Mum: His Dream Has Come True
Byline: Dean Wilkins, Richard Creasy and Sally Hind firstname.lastname@example.org
THE proud mother of new Scotland hero Ikechi Anya told last night how she jumped for joy when he scored for his country - then revealed how he learned his trade on the tough streets of Glasgow.
Pint-sized winger Ikechi, 25, stole the show on Tuesday night as Gordon Strachan's Scotland beat Macedonia 2-1. He was making his first start for the national team after his debut as a substitute last Friday in the defeat to Belgium.
And his stunning performance in Skopje - which included Scotland's opening goal - was not only savoured by the Tartan Army but his family too.
His mother Mariena comes from Romania, while his father Chinasa is from Nigeria.
But little Ikechi is 100 per cent Scottish - born at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary and raised in Castlemilk.
Last night, speaking exclusively to the Record, Mariena, 54, told how Ikechi kicked a ball up and down their street in Castlemilk from the moment he was old enough to play outside.
She said: "It meant the world to him when he was chosen to play because Scotland is where he was born and he was bursting with pride to pull on the blue shirt.
"All he needed was the chance to show people what he could do. I wasn't nervous watching him because I have always seen how good he is."
As if to prove the point, her son's Twitter site now boasts the line: "Ye Cannae Catch Ikechi Anya."
The family moved down south when Ikechi was seven and Marieana watched the Macedonia match online at her small flat in Crawley, Sussex, where she keeps all her son's many football trophies in a box.
She travels to every home game Ikechi plays for Championship side Watford and has been the driving force behind is career literally.
Marieana added: "There is no football background in his family but it was obvious that all he wanted to do as soon as he could walk was kick a football around.
"I spent years driving him to practice sessions and games as a youngster but he was so enthusiastic about football it was always a pleasure.
"He was kicking a ball in front of the house where he grew up in Glasgow from morning till night as a very young boy.
"I don't know where he got it from. I qualified as an economist in Romania and his father was a scientist and not interested in football at all. But all Ikechi wanted was to play football."
Proud brother Chima, 29 - a GP who also performs as a hip-hop artist - retweeted a picture of our back page yesterday with the headline Anya Go Wee Man.
He took to Twitter to tell fans Ikechi's new-found status was not a case of "overnight success". He said: "The man has been working OVERTIME since day 1." And Ikechi said on Twitter: "Last 10 days with the team been amazing and shouts out to @ScottishFA & everyone associated for making me feel immediately welcome. …