“If you knew where some of us came from, you won’t pray for us to fail”.
Those were the choice words of Victor Osimhen a couple of days before his mega-deal to Napoli was completed.
While many figures are been thrown around as the financial implication of Osimhen’s switch from France to Italy, there is no controversy that this 21-year old orphan is now Nigeria’s most expensive player ever and among Africa’s biggest of all time.
Osimhen lost his mother several years back and unfortunately, his aged father could also not wait to see his son break boundaries the best of Nigerian players can only wish and pray for at least for now.
Often times just like pure gold needs to pass through the fire to shine, the best of talents across the world, especially in Africa, have to endure difficult starts before making it to stardom.
From Samuel Eto’o to Sadio Mane, the story is the same and Osimhen is not any different either; starting out on the streets of Lagos where he toiled under the scorching sun as a hawker to survive the hardship he was born into.
“I come from a place where so many dreams have died but I’m the kind of person who doesn’t give up irrespective of my situation. So, I was forced to go out and get myself a life,” Osimhen who is the last of seven siblings said in a recent interview.
“In Lagos, they sell water (bottle or sachet) which is the easiest, but the hardest because you have to run and give somebody the water and collect money.” He added.
While many have allowed their environment to get the better of them, Osimhen even at a young showed his resolve for a better future and was ready to take his destiny into his hands.
It was thus not surprising that when the chance to test with the Golden Eaglets came, he grabbed with both hands even though mother luck also played a huge role.
“Getting into camp was a different life, a different story,” Osimhen told Elegbete TV.
“When we got to the FIFA Goal Project pitch in Abuja (where the U-17 officials were screening players), there was a huge crowd, it was like two million players. I thought, ‘how can this man (coach Emmanuel Amuneke) see me when some players had been there for several days?’
“The screening was just for 15 minutes. Amuneke said if you’re talented, you don’t need one hour to show it. ‘In 10 minutes, if you show what you’ve got, you can be in the team,’ he said. And I said, ‘no problem, let’s go.’ In a spate of 15 minutes, I scored two goals. But the coach was so tired and said, ‘just go.’ He chased everyone out. I told the person who brought me, ‘I came to Abuja to do my bit but I wasn’t picked, I think we should go back to Lagos.’
“But the team doctor told Amuneke, ‘I think you should try the guy on green.’ That’s me they didn’t know my name. When he (Amuneke) called me, he said, ‘don’t you eat, why are you like this?’“He told me to sit down and I was happy. Then I played against the main team in camp and I was fighting really hard, giving them problems.
“After the screening, the coach told some players to go but asked me to come back the following day. And he fell in love with me. The final day I was picked, the U-15 players at the Goal Project were very happy for me.”
Amuneke made the right choice in Osimhen who went to the U-17 World Cup and set an astonishing goal-scoring record of 10 in a single tournament.
Europe to the world
While many clubs like Barcelona, Arsenal among others were queuing up for Osimhen after his heroics at the U-17 World Cup, it was German club Wolfsburg that snapped up the whizkid.
It was the best of time for Osimhen in Germany and until he got to Belgium that he could express him very well and caught the eyes of the world again.
Then Lille came calling looking for a capable replacement for their superstar Nicolas Pepe who made a record-breaking move to Arsenal.
From the Blues, Osimhen was brought in as a replacement for Pepe and the Nigerian striker grabbed the headlines with his breathtaking performances that earned in both the Lille Player of the Year Award as well as the best African Player in Ligue 1 for the 2019/20 season.
Confirming that the best is yet to come, ,Osimhen has made a switch to Italy where some have even tipped him to drawf the enviable records set by the soccer legend Diego Maradona in his days.
He will wear the respected No.9 jersey at the two-time Italian champions next season.
“We are very happy at Osimhen’s arrival,” Aurelio De Laurentiis, Napoli president, said on Radio Kiss Kiss.
“The young man has been enchanted by Partenope. He will wear the No.9 jersey.
“(Gennaro) Gattuso (Napoli manager) really wanted to sign Osimhen. (Director of sport Cristiano) Giuntoli did a great job because the lad changed his agents during the negotiations.
“Lille will receive circa €80m, while the player over the years will get between €4m and €4.5m per season.”
“We don’t have to expect everything and immediately, even if he doesn’t score 25 or 30 goals, but he should express himself well in this extraordinary team and also make the other Azzurri score.”