So when it became clear time at Celtic was coming to an end, there was only one place the 21-year-old Nigerian was going to end up, regardless of the big roubles being thrown in his direction from Russia.
Kenny Shiels is merely the next man to take a gamble on the extravagant abilities of a player who was one of the stars of the Under-17 World Cup, and who has wasted little time in collecting the Parkhead club, Sporting Lisbon and PSV Eindhoven as his former employers. The Rugby Park side may have lost the race to get all his paperwork sorted in time for today's Clydesdale Bank Premier League meeting with Dundee United, but Ibrahim hopes that by taking a step back he can prove a point to the Parkhead fans.
"I had the option to go to Russia but I have a work permit here and my agent really wanted me to stay here," Ibrahim said. "He told me about the club but, honestly, I already knew about them. I watched them in the League Cup final; they did very well and I enjoyed the way they played. That's when I fell in love with the club because I loved the passing football with confidence. They played like Barcelona that day. I kept following them and there was another game they beat Celtic in this season. They play great passing football."
Ibrahim had an unerring knack of being at the centre of Celtic's celebratory group shots, but he received only two genuine chances in the first team and could hardly be said to have made the most of them. There was 15 minutes of a 1-0 win against St Johnstone in May 2011, and a full 90 in the 1-1 William Hill Scottish Cup draw against Arbroath. "The expectation that day was for Celtic to win by a few goals," he said. "I didn't find it difficult but it was my first game of the season. It was just the result that was the problem.
"I quite enjoyed Celtic because it's a great club with a good atmosphere. Neil Lennon is a good man, a great guy who has been encouraging me, but the opportunities just weren't there for me. I expected more than five games but only hard work can bring that. Without games you can't have confidence. I need games to play and develop. I am definitely looking forward to showing Celtic what they are missing."
Ibrahim's fortunes haven't been much better at international level. The player missed the cut for Nigeria's Africa Cup of Nations squad after a mix-up caused his late arrival at the country's pre-tournament training camp in the Algarve, only to be allowed to return at the 11th hour by coach Steven Keshi. It was the player's second near miss in terms of this tournament, having previously been called up as a 16-year-old by Berti Vogts, only to injure his groin on the eve of the tournament.
The Super Eagles are among the favourites for the finals, which begin in South Africa today, and Ibrahim hopes his country can go the distance. "Efe [Ambrose, of Celtic] is the only player at the tournament representing Scottish football," he said. "I was so close to making the tournament. They called me up at the last minute and I arrived late. I didn't know what was going on. A lot of players were there before me but I went and did my best. They hadn't been seeing me play so they called me up, to assess me, to see that I am still the same player. I am in the plans for the World Cup qualifiers. I am a fighter and I will keep fighting for my team and for myself. The disappointment will only make me more determined.
"We have a decent team and if they continue doing a good job they will also have a good chance to win, along with Ghana or the Ivory Coast. Zambia won it last year so anybody could win it, it depends on who works harder, does the right thing, and plays to instructions."
Ibrahim is a classic No.10, and Kenny Shiels feels that getting a smile on the player's face is the first step. "If we can get inside Ibrahim's head and bring out the player in him, we can help him to kick on," said the Rugby Park manager. "He's slipped a bit and we need to get his career re-directed and re-channelled. We need him to be happy. If we can do that first, he's got the talent to do well.
"At 17 he was one of the 10 best players in the world at that age. When you're at Celtic's training ground looking at Joe Ledley, Scott Brown, Kris Commons, Victor Wanyama, psychologically that can have an affect. We're giving him a platform here but the desire has to come from the player."