Photo: Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen: From street hawking to stardom
By Segun Odegbami
He lost his mother at a young age of 13. His father lost his job 3 months after he lost his wife. The little chap went into selling pure water on the streets of Lagos to survive.
He was rejected by many clubs but today is one of the BEST players in the world. It started with just 15 MINUTES!
Lossing his mama, and his father losing his job resulted to his moving from a 2 bedroom flat to a SELF CONTAIN, as the 8 family members started living in a self contain apartment.
It was a difficult start, he was the last of 7 kids but he didn’t get the special treatment given to “Last Borns” in Nigerian homes.
He rather joined his elder siblings in hustling to make sure they survived. He hawked “Pure water” along Ojota road, Lagos State. As hustlers, his siblings sold newspapers and oranges on the streets. It was a family united in making sure they survived.
He lived in one of Lagos State’s biggest refuse dump sites in Olusosun but that didn’t stop the young boy from dreaming.
His father wanted him to become a medical doctor but he dropped out of school to pursue his dream of becoming a footballer and then his father supported him.
He played street football and was a youth member of the then Ultimate Strikers Academy, but he never really played.
Then, 2014, about 9 years ago, at age 16, he went for the Nigeria Under-17 team screening held in Abuja stadium by coach Emmanuel Amuneke, which was attended by more than 2 million players.
They were each given 15 MINUTES to impress. Guess what? In 15 MINUTES he scored 2 goals. A friend once said, and I quote, “Luck Is When Opportunity Meets Preparation.”
It still wasn’t enough as the the former Nigerian football star, Amuneke, sent him and the others away. But as they left, he heard Nigeria team doctor telling Amuneke to try out “The guy on green”.
Coach Amuneke turned and called out “The guy on green!!!”, he turned because he wore green, ran back and the coach teased him saying, “You no dey chop? Why you lean like this? Sit down!” Permit me to Title this, ‘The Doctor, The Destiny Helper.’
And that was how Osimhen got selected into the Nigeria Under-17 World Cup Team in 2014 and went on to win the following;
2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
2015 FIFA U-17 Golden Boot (Highest Goal Scorer).
2015 FIFA Silver Shoe award (Second Best Player)
Then the miracle came! The European bigs clubs came calling!!
On January 5, 2017 he signed for the German club, Wolfsburg and was supposed to start living the life right, but it got tougher for him.
The coach that brought him to Germany got sacked and he got injured on his right knee and had to be operated 3 different times. After the surgery, he started training to get fit, but while training, he again had a shoulder injury that needed another surgery.
After the surgery again, he came back to Nigeria to be with his family and get fitter before returning to Germany. He got better and even went to church for thanksgiving but it got tougher.
He was about to travel back to Germany, he had his bags packed when he woke and found himself in a hospital bed in Lagos. At this point, Wolfsburg thought he didn’t want to come back for pre-season and asked for doctors report and pictures which he did.
He was diagnosed of malaria and typhoid. Like me and my body system, he must be an AA Genotype person too. Any element of perceived bad water, it’s typhoid and a mosquito bite, it’s malaria straight. Yet again, he got better, traveled back to Wolfsburg and for 3 weeks he was quarantined away from the team.
Wolfsburg decided to loan him and he agreed because he wanted to play football, he even decided to play for the lower division of the German League but a top Belgian side came for him.
The story has it that ZULTE WAREGEM in Belgium wanted him on loan, so he went to train with them, they tested him and found out he still had malaria but the coach told him to keep training. Then for 3 weeks, he trained, scored goals in training and the coach promised him, the club would sign him.
Finally an escape route came but on the eve of the day that he would be signed, his agent was called and told he wasn’t needed again. Hmmm. What a terrible disappointment he must had felt.
Then, he went to Wolfsburg who relegated him to the Under-19 team to train so he could be fit to be loaned out later. Yet, while training, another club called. It was the Belgian Champions CLUB BRUGGE.
He was happy, went to Belgium where he passed his medicals and the team doctor told him it was left for the club president to make the move official. Again, it was the doctor.
Imagine, him and the doctor again. But unlike Amunike, the Club President turned down the deal as the deal was never made official. Then as human, he was broken!!!
Osimhen went back to Germany where he would wake up by 4.00am to cry! He was however optimistic and told his agent not to worry about any transfer again so as to allow him stay and fight for his place in Germany.
Yet, on a Wednesday morning, 5 days to the closure of the European transfer market that year, he got another call.
It was a call from another Belgian Club, this time CHARLEROI FC, a voice introduced himself as the Club President and told him “Can you come to Charleroi, I want to sign you”.
May your destiny changing call come exactly before you might sign off to faith. It is said that he left for Belgian on road with his agent and they spent 7 hours, and when he got to Belgian, this time around, HE GOT SIGNED.
Despite not scoring a goal in 2 years of turning pro, he scored 20 goals in 36 appearances for the club. He later left to join French Club Lille. Remember Nigerian national team goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama? He played for that club Lille FC.
Osimhen scored 18 goals that season for Lille making him a fan favorite among the Lille faithful but that was just the start of his story.
Then, the Italian giants, Napoli FC broke their transfer record to make him the most expensive African player when they paid Lille $96M (N39.7bn).
And he has just led Napoli to their first Serie A title in 33 years breaking all sorts of records along the way.
He’s now the African with the Most Goals scored in a single Serie A season, breaking Samuel Eto’s record to become the Prince of Naples.
Yes, John Ogu called him, “a beast with a lion’s heart.”
Odion Ighalo called him, “the crown Prince to the throne of Nigerian attackers.”
He is one the hottest top prospects in world football at the moment
He is VICTOR JAMES OSIMHEN