Victor Osimhen: Rewriting The History Of African Strikers In Italy

Written By Jacobs Dunga

Victor James Osimhen was born in Lagos State, Nigeria, the commercial capital of the West African country. Just like many others, Victor started playing football on the streets of Lagos with his friends before joining a local side where his talent was brushed and polished into what we now enjoy today.

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To help his poor family survive, the lanky striker used to hawk in the congested traffic of Lagos to support his mother and the rest of the family, he did that while also creating time for his footballing career.

Fast forward to the present day, the 24 year old is on the verge of making history with Napoli in the Italian Serie A as an integral part of a team on the run to winning the club her first Scudetto since 1990 when Diego Armando Maradona masterminded the feat.

Signed from Lille in the summer of 2020 for a club record fee of €70m, Osimhen has gradually crept his way into the hearts of many Neapolitans who would sacrifice their last penny to see the Nigerian in action. The Super Eagles striker alongside his teammates are pushing Napoli towards the cusp of history with their invincible surge to the Scudetto.

When Osimhen first burst onto the scene as a 17-year old in 2015 winning the FIFA U17 World Cup for Nigeria whilst finishing as the top scorer with ten goals in seven games as well as recognition as the tournament’s second best player, little did anyone know that he was going to metamorphose into one of the best strikers of this generation.

His development was one that was well guided as he was made to wait before eventually joining Wolfsburg in 2017 after evaluating every single option before him. That careful planning has taken him across Belgium and France before his arrival to the grandest stage with Napoli.

Since debuting for the Partenopei, his rise through the club’s list of important players has never suffered a halt. Already rewriting the history of Nigerian and African players generally in the Italian Serie A where some of the continent’s greatest have laced their boots.

In just his third season, Victor has already surpassed legendary players such as Samuel Eto’o, Obafemi Martins, George Weah and Nwankwo Kanu. With 21 goals in the ongoing season, he is tied with the Cameroonian Eto’o as the African players with the most goals in a single Serie A campaign. He also recently became the first Napoli player to score in eight consecutive league games and is on course to reach the most goals by a Napoli player player in a single season achieved by Gonzalo Higuain in the 2015/2016 season which is also a league record.

Luciano Spalletti back in January 2023 described the striker as a complete package. “He has physical strength, accepts the challenge, tracks back to help, is good in the air. He is the complete package.”

He also broke Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for the highest jump for a goal in the league when his 258cm leap against Spezia cancelled the Portuguese’s previous height of 256cm recorded against Sampdoria but couldn’t lift past Fikayo Tomori’s effort for AC Milan against Juventus which was measured at 263cm. He is also Nigeria’s most prolific scorer in the history of the Italian Serie A where he’s surpassed Simy Nwankwo.

Osimhen’s 25 goals in 29 games across all competitions this season has helped Luciano Spalletti’s side to a 20 point gap over the closest rival on the Serie A log whilst they have booked a date with AC Milan in the quarter finals of the Champions League.

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The Lagos born striker is currently enjoying a wave as one of the best strikers in Europe and is also one of the most sought after attacker in the transfer market with many top clubs queuing for his signature.

He’s known for his knack to score from acute angles and has scored several goals from almost impossible situations. Valued at almost a hundred million pounds by his club, the enigmatic striker is fast becoming one of the best to have emerged from the continent of Africa.

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