• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Osimhen now prince in Naples

Back in 2020 summer Napoli Football Club broke the bank in signing Victor Osimhen for a club record fee of $96 million making him the most expensive signing in their club history.

Two seasons after the club is reaping the gains of investing in the Nigerian lethal strike who has helped them win the Serie A trophy in style.

On Thursday, May 4, 2023, Osimhen made history for himself, Napoli FC, and Nigeria when he scored the all-important goal that won his team the 2022/2023 Italian Scudetto trophy in their 1-1 draw away with Udinese.

Osimhen’s second-half goal was all that the club needed to settle scores with the black and white jersey team at Udine and secure the Scudetto for the season with five matches still to play.

The Edo State–born striker by this feat has joined the exclusive class of players highly celebrated by Napoli fans who before his arrival from OSC Lille of France did not see this coming.

Osimhen scored 22 Serie A league goals and made four assists in 27 games to lead Napoli to their first Scudetto in the 21st century.

Neapolitans last lifted the coveted trophy 33 years ago, when the late Diego Armando Maradona led the Azure colour army to subdue the likes of AC Milan, Juventus, Roma, and Internationale Milan, among others to lift the trophy.

For that singular feat, Maradona was hero-worshipped in Naples, and to date, they still accord him massive respect in that city.

Osimhen through his goals, week in and week out, has added value to the club’s history and record.

He holds the record for the most goals in a Serie A season by an African player, breaking Samuel Eto’s record. Eto had the record for the most goals scored by an African in a single Serie A season when he registered 21 goals for Inter Milan in the 2010/11 season.

Osimhen also joins Obafemi Martins and Obinna Nsofor as the third Nigerian to win the Scudetto. Obafemi Martins won the trophy in the 2005/2006 season, while Obinna Nsofor won his in the 2008/2009 season with Inter Milan respectively.

He also broke George Weah’s record for the highest African goal scorer in Serie A history with his goal against Fiorentina.

The goal, which is his 23rd this season is his 47th Serie A goal, edging out Weah’s 46 goals to become the highest African goal scorer in the Italian league.

With this achievement, it may be difficult for Napoli to allow Osimhen to leave by the end of this season. The club will break the bank to keep him especially as they will feature in the Champions League next season.

They got knocked out this year in the last eight which gives the team huge confidence and experience going into next year’s competition.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid has joined the race to sign Osimhen. Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and Arsenal have indicated interest in signing him.

From Wolfsburg in Germany to Charleroi in Belgium and to Lille in France, Osimhen lands the big one in Napoli.

Osimhen’s path to football stardom has not been an easy one. He achieved his greatness through hard work. Growing up in Lagos, he was left grieving the death of his beloved mother who died when he was 13 years.

Shortly after his mother’s demise, his father lost his job, forcing him and his five siblings to move onto the streets to help the family make ends meet.

Read also: Be deliberate about youth’s development, Sports Minister advises government

The aspiring footballer, who adored Didier Drogba as a teen, would stand in busy traffic selling bottles of water to drivers.

Back in 2019, he told France Football: “I lost my mom in October, I do not even remember the year. I was small. Three months later, my father lost his job. It was very hard for our family.

“My brother sold sports newspapers, my sister sold oranges in the street and me, bottled water in Lagos in the middle of the traffic.

“We had to survive so we stuck together. In the evening, we were all together and we gathered the money on the table. We gave everything to our big sister and she made food and organised everything.

“Part of my life has been a struggle to survive. But that’s all I am today in the end. It’s hard to classify all that but each event has created my personality.”

Osimhen started his football career in Nigeria playing for the Ultimate Strikers Academy.

He has won the FIFA U17 World Cup 2015, FIFA U17 Golden Boot 2015, and FIFA U17 Silver Ball 2015.

In Africa, he won the CAF Youth Player of the Year 2015, and AFCON 3rd Place 2019.

In France, he won the Prix Marc-Vivien Foé 2020, and Lille player of the season 2019. Now he has the 2022/23 Scudetto to his credit.