Osimhen: From Olusosun to Europe – a long hard road

Osimhen: From Olusosun to Europe – a long hard road
Photo by Icon Sport

With Nigeria set to take on South Africa in the semi-final of AFCON on Wednesday, much talk has been on Victor Osimhen.

The Napoli striker had a stomach bug that ensured he could not travel with the rest of the team to Bouake on Monday, with Nigerians fearing he may not be fit for the game.

Osimhen has not scored many goals at AFCON 2023, with his solitary goal coming against Equatorial Guinea in the Super Eagles opening game.

In an exclusive interview, Osimhen spoke about his long journey from Olusosun to stardom, detailing a tortuous and spirit-breaking journey.

How Osimhen joined the Golden Eaglets

Osimhen - from golden eaglets to Charleroi
Photo : Belga / Icon Sport

It was a hectic journey for Osimhen to get into the Golden Eaglets under coach Emmanuel Amuneke. He needed hard work and divine favour to reach his destination.

Osimhen said he trained at Campos Square on the Lagos Mainland (a long distance from his Olusosun home) for about four months and failed to make the Golden Eaglets team.

When the trials moved to Agege, he also went there to try and convince the team of his potential. He impressed but was still not included in the team.

However, Amuneke offered him hope by inviting him and others to join the team in Abuja for another set of trials.

Like a child of destiny destined for greatness, Osimhen's journey to Abuja was not easy. With no money, fortune beckoned his way again when he got a free ride to Abuja.

In Abuja, he had no place to stay, but fate continued to play its role in his life, as someone in the camp introduced him to a family that housed him for the duration of his stay for the trials.

He did menial jobs for the family and said he is eternally grateful for their role in his career. For Osimhen, angels come in different forms, and that family were angels sent by God to smoothen his path.

The U-17 trial was not easy. When Osimhen thought all hope was lost, amid thousands of players who sought to make the team, Amuneke saw something special in the lad and named him in the team at the last minute.

According to Osimhen, it was the turning point in his life. He said that Amuneke was harsh on him and thought the coach hated him, but he was shocked when Amuneke used him as an example to motivate the rest of the squad.

Not only did he make the team, he became the vice-captain. Osimhen attributes a lot of his successes to Amuneke.

From the Golden Eaglets to Europe

Osimhen at Wolfsburg
Photo : Firo / Icon Sport

From the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which Nigeria won in 2015, Osimhen received many offers from European clubs, but the young lad surprised many when he chose Bundesliga side Wolfsburg.

Osimhen claimed the decision to go to Germany was his, as he felt that was where his football would grow.

According to the young lad, he chose football over money.

“I didn't speak to my father. I didn't tell my brother anything. I just told my agent I wanted to go to Wolfsburg, and everyone was shocked about my decision,” Osimhen said.

Osimhen said he had to battle plenty of forces that didn't want him to go to Wolfsburg.

He said he learned plenty of lessons at Wolfsburg, especially from Mario Gomez, who also put him through his paces, but it didn't last long as a new coach deemed him surplus to requirement.

He left Germany as his agent had a trial for him in Belgium. Things didn't go smoothly in Belgium, as two clubs turned him down despite doing well in the trials.

The second club claimed that since the first club (a bigger club) turned him down, they would not be able to sign him.

He returned to Wolfsburg and proposed in his mind that he would stay for five months, work hard and get another club in the winter.

With disappointment, Osimhen set to get to work, but fate had not finished with him. Five days before the close of the transfer window, the Sporting Charleroi president called him, but Osimhen was uninterested.

He didn't want to waste his time again, but when the club president insisted on signing him with no trials, he reneged and took the trip back to Belgium.

Osimhen, who joined Napoli from OSC Lille for a record-breaking fee could join Chelsea in the summer.

This article was most recently revised and updated 2 weeks ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter.