Grass to grace series (5): Victor Osimhen, from Lagos street hawker to African Player of the Year

 Grass to grace series (5): Victor Osimhen, from Lagos street hawker to African Player of the Year

Victor Osimhen’s journey from sachet water hawking on the streets of Lagos to be a beloved Napoli striker. His impact transcends to the football pitch.

Recognized globally, football experts place him in the league of the best, alongside the likes of Erling Haaland and others.

“Osimhen’s performance has been nothing short of exceptional. He is not just a scorer; he is a hard worker who goes above and beyond for his team,” praises one expert, capturing the essence of Osimhen’s commitment.

But behind the glamor of Naples lies a poignant narrative rooted in the sprawling Olusosun rubbish dump in Lagos. Osimhen, the youngest of seven siblings, faced poverty, insecurity, and the constant fear of eviction. “I come from a place where so many dreams have died, but I’m the kind of person who doesn’t give up irrespective of my situation,” he declared, encapsulating his determination.

Osimhen, the sachet pure water seller

From chasing vehicles selling sachet water barefoot to surviving the challenges of his early life, Osimhen’s journey mirrors a compelling rise. His turning point came at a U-17 World Cup try-out, where he impressed coach Emmanuel Amuneke, leading the Golden Eaglets to a historic triumph.

A high-profile move to Wolfsburg marked the beginning, but injuries tested Osimhen’s resilience. Rejections from Belgian clubs fueled his determination, culminating in a career revival at Sporting Charleroi. A €12m move to Lille saw him shine, earning him a €70m transfer to Napoli, where he overcame challenges to become the Scudetto hero.

“The boy who defied familial expectations now stands as a symbol of success in the world of football.”

Osimhen’s legacy

Osimhen’s legacy extends beyond the pitch. In the 2022/23 season, he secured Napoli’s long-awaited Scudetto with a goal against Udinese. “I scored the Scudetto goal,” he exclaimed, cementing his leadership role and becoming the third Nigerian to win the prestigious title.

His 22nd Serie A goal against Udinese surpassed Samuel Eto’o’s record, equaling George Weah’s historic goal tally. Osimhen achieved his 100th career goal faster than Messi and Ronaldo, marking a remarkable journey from the sachet water-filled streets of Lagos to a €100m sensation in the world of football.

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In the midst of triumph, Osimhen’s story remains a poignant reminder of resilience, triumph against all odds, and the enduring power of perseverance—a tale that continues to captivate the imaginations of fans worldwide.

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