With seven goals in four matches at the 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup underway in Chile, Victor Osimhen, the bean-pole Nigerian striker sits atop of the scoring chart, justifying claims that he is indeed one for the future.
Osimhen is living his dream and breathing his favourite song, ‘sitting on the throne’ by popular Nigerian ‘Olamide’, who rapped inter alia ‘I’m a king and I don’t joke with my name … Hun! … I’m sitting on the throne.’ “I really hustled on the streets of Lagos and toyed with the idea of doing so many things initially,” Osimhen, the last child in a family with six other children, told Cafonline.com.
“I sold things like sachet water in the traffic but I knew the only thing I wanted to do was playing football, though I have other talents.
“I love music; I can compose and sing very well too, but playing football is all that I have wanted to do. I like rap music and one of my favourite artistes is Olamide, and I like this particular track, ‘Sitting on the Throne,’ ” noted Osimhen, whose name means ‘God is good.’
Date with fate
To say that fate has a hand in the budding career of Osimhen is perhaps stating the obvious. He came from a humble family and had to hawk in the ever busy Lagos traffic along with his siblings in order to augment the purse of the family. However, he was determined not to let go his first love.
“Though I was born with the talent, I also learned playing football by watching my elder brother,” the forward who stands 1:85m revealed.
“He (my brother) used to play as a striker for the senior team of a neighborhood club. I joined the club later and aspired to be better than him.
“He didn’t play football for long because he was also a newspaper vendor on the streets in Lagos. Nothing interested me than playing football and I really thank God for where I’m today.”
Since he broke into the Nigeria U-17 team, when he scored a brace in a friendly in June 2014, Osimhen has been the soul and heart of the team, scoring goals with prolific efficiency.
At the last count, he has remarkably scored a total of 45 goals in all matches for the coach Emmanuel Amuneke-tutored side.
“Victor is the kind of player any coach would be proud to have in his team because he is always ready to give his best for the common good of the team,” noted Amuneke, the 1994 CAF African Footballer of the Year.
“It is not my style to talk about a particular player in a team but Victor gets his job done for the team.”
The admiration between coach and player was there for all to see at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago on October 17 when Victor struck the second goal in the 2-0 defeat of USA, going on all four before his mentor.
“I prostrated before coach Amuneke after the goal against USA to show appreciation for all what I have learned under him,” he noted. “He has so much belief in me though he had never told me before until the game against the USA, and thank God, I scored in that match.”
Scoring at will, Drogba Inspiration
Apart from the strike against USA, Osimhen netted brace in the 5-1 crushing of hosts Chile, and the only goal in the 2-1 loss to Croatia. Against Australia at the Round of 16, the teenage forward roared loudest netting a hat-trick as the Golden Eaglets eased past the Aussies 6-U.
Prior to coming to Chile, he emerged amongst the top scorers at the continental championships in Niger last February, with four goals in six matches.
His biggest guide rest on the words of former England captain: ‘football’s not just about scoring goals – it’s about winning.’
“Playing for the Golden Eaglets has boosted my confidence but I don’t see myself special amongst my teammates. I dreamt about playing for the national team and gradually, I have settled down into the U-17 team. I really thank God for helping me to be part of this team. In school, I played in some competitions but there is nothing like playing for the national team.
“Success of the team comes first and it is always my aspiration to always score goals for the team when I’m given the opportunity to play,” noted Osimhen, who has a fond admiration for former African Footballer of the Year and Ivorian legend, Didier Drogba.
“Drogba has always been a source of inspiration for me because he is the type of player that doesn’t give up and I like his fighting spirit. He is very passionate, always serious on the field and whatever circumstance, he would try and score for his team.”
Osimlien too can score goals in the company of anybody; and his goals for the Golden Eaglets has come in different shades but reckons his second goal for Nigeria in a 3-1 defeat of Zambia at the 2015 African U-17 Cup of Nations in Niger as the pick of the pack.
“I think the second goal I scored against Zambia in Niger was very good because it was a good example of what coach Amuneke had been telling us in training; accuracy before power. It was great tournament for us because we achieved our objectives of qualifying for the World Cup in Chile.”
Nigeria will next face old foes Brazil at the quarters on Sunday in Vina del Mar, and the forward is looking forward to star yet again, with no special focus on the Golden Boot prize for the top scorer of the tournament.
“My priority is not to be the top scorer at this FIFA U-17 World Cup. When Nigeria won the tournament in 2013, the top scorer was not from Nigeria. Rather, it would be a thing of joy if Nigeria can retain the title,” he concluded.
Culled from THE NATION SPORTING LIFE, Friday, October 30, 2015