6 years ago, life was so different for Victor Osimhen. Like most young men who come from humble backgrounds, he needed an outlet to distract from the everyday realities of life in Olusosun, a poor community situated in Ikeja, a suburb of Lagos Nigeria’s commercial nerve center.
Victor like most youngsters all over the world, fell in love with the round leather game. In a recent podcast, Victor Osimhen credited his older brother with igniting the spark of interest for football. According to him, he used to tag along to go watch his brother play in their local neighborhood kick about. Young Victor was so engrossed in the game that he decided to pursue it full time, training with local neighborhood football clubs.
Let’s slow down a bit before we go on; let’s get a better view of the Background of Victor Osimhen. Victor is the last child of 6 children born to Elder and Mrs. Osimhen on December 29th, 1998. His early beginnings were already an introduction to the challenges of life. He endured exposure to the harsh weather elements strapped to the back of his mother, who had to go about busy Lagos highways selling cold water packaged in nylon locally called “pure water.” This she did to augment her family’s income barely getting by on the income of Pa Osimhen, who was then a police constable.
Sadly, soon after, Victor’s mother passed away an early childhood traumatic experience for the young man.
Despite these setbacks, it would seem that Victor channeled this negative occurrence into positive energy as he continued to pursue his passion in football, excelling with his neighborhood and high school teams. In 2014 he got information of an open camp that was being organized by the Coach of the under 17 National team Emmanuel Amuneke in the Nigerian capital Abuja. Unable to afford the ticket for the 45-minute trip by air to Abuja, Victor decided to hitch a ride with other hopefuls a 9-12-hour road journey.
Arriving the Nation’s capital barely a few hours to the commencement of the open trials, an exhausted Osimhen immediately headed to the imposing National Stadium, venue for the open camp. If Victor thought his task couldn’t be more daunting, he was definitely giving a huge awakening when he sighted hundreds of other young hopefuls as he arrived at the stadium practice pitch. However, with little time to spare and an impatient coach to impress Victor quickly got into the groove of things. He was grouped with other players and asked to play a practice match for 45 minutes. Despite scoring in the match, he didn’t make much of an impression on Amuneke, who looked set to ditch the young man.
Destiny, on the other hand, had other plans. One of the team’s coaching assistants who had clearly been bowled over by Victor’s exploits put in a good word for the lad. This led to Amuneke taking a second look at the youngster, and as they say, the rest is history. Victor would later justify the coach’s trust in a record-breaking performance at the U17 FIFA World Cup hosted by Chile. The then 16-year old scored a record-breaking 10 goals to finish the tournament as the highest goal and help Nigeria claim a record 5th U17 title.
It wasn’t long before a European team snapped up one of the hottest young prospects in World football. German club Vfl Wolfsburg signed Victor Osimhen on a pre-contract before officially putting pen to paper on a 3-and-a-half-year contract in 2017 after he turned 18.
Unfortunately, this was just another chapter full of challenges in the already eventful life of Osimhen. A combination of injuries, coaching changes, and lack of game time affected the young man whose time at Wolfsburg was uneventful, to say the least. Coming of his failed stint in Germany, Victor’s career seemed destined to end before it had even started. A bout of illness and slew of failed trails began to cast doubts in the young man’s mind if he was really cut out to be a top-level professional footballer.
Like a fairy godmother Belgian club Royal Charleroi Sporting Club swooped in and offered Victor a lifeline to rescue his career, which he took it with relish—repaying that faith with a breakthrough season, scoring 19 goals in 34 matches for the Zebras in his debut 2018/2019 season. At that moment, it seemed that whatever clouds that had hung over his career during his time in Germany had completely evaporated. His performances instantly attracted the attention of French Ligue 1 side Lille OSC.
After signing for Les Dogues in 2019, Victor didn’t waste time scoring a brace on his debut to become an instant hit with the fans. Scoring a total of 18 goals in 38 matches for Lille in this abridged season, Osimhen has shown that he is no one-hit-wonder. Yet another exciting chapter was about to open in the life of the young man, but like a recurring pattern, another setback was on the horizon.
The death of his Father Pa Osimhen was a huge loss to Victor. A big figure in his life was suddenly gone, but that will only seem to fire the young man as he embarks on another journey to football stardom. Reports from various sources talk of his impending move to Italian Seria A side SSC Napoli for €60m fee, which could potentially reach €81m in add-ons.
Full of ups and downs from kicking football on the streets of Lagos and helping his brother sell newspapers, his career has blossomed exponentially as he is set to become the most expensive African player. This has been a whirlwind journey for the young man, but one thing is sure Victor has never backed down from any path life has taken him. We can only watch with excitement as he takes his next steps and fulfills his awesome potential.
Written By Ayotunde Omolayole