Victor Osimhen has been in phenomenal form of late.
The Nigerian born striker has just scored his 22nd goal of the season, in 28 games.
Yesterday, he scored two powerful goals, but one truth that occurred to me as I was watching is that Victor battled poverty and malaria to become the beast that he is today.
He did not have it the easy way on his way up.
He went through the process.
Osimhen grew up in the Lagos neighborhood of Olusosun, Oregon, home to the largest open-air dump in Africa, and helped his family stay afloat by selling bottled water on the streets. At a time when other strikers were gaining valuable training sessions and world-class coaching, Osimhen worked hard to make ends meet, following his mother’s death and his father’s dismissal from his job as a police officer.
As of this time, 10 years ago, Victor was living in extreme poverty with his family in Olusosun, Oregun, Lagos, where he grew up.
Chances are that if you were living in Lagos, 10 years ago, you might have run into him selling gala and lacasera around Allen/Maryland bridge.
He has the energy to run after cars, and he is good at what he does.
While selling Gala and Lacesera were his day hustles, Victor had a dream:
He wants to be a prolific striker, and he plays football at the weekend when he is not selling gala.
“Determination is what keeps him going,” said Chinedu Ogbenna, founder and grassroots coach at the academy. “He’s not one to shy away from challenges.” “Victor has a natural talent, and it is evident in his zeal to play football and come good in life after such a difficult start.”
It took one man, his agent, to discover him one day when he was playing football with his peers and his story changed forever.
A chance meeting with football agent Shira Ayila (the elder brother of former international Yusuf Ayila) in 2014 proved decisive for the life of young Victor.
After seeing Osimhen play at the National Stadium in Lagos, Ayila remarked on his abilities and invited him to the Agege Stadium, where the national under-17 team was preparing at the time for the regional West African Football Union B Under-17 Championship.
However, it was not until after that tournament was over that he would get to make an impression on the coach of the team, Emmanuel Amuneke.
“I think a month after the tournament, we went to Abuja. “There were five of us in the car, with Shira the sixth,” he recalls. “That was the first time I went outside of Lagos, the first time I was leaving my family, actually.”
A road trip from Lagos to Abuja can take close to nine hours, if not more. They arrived at night, and the following morning they were at the venue of the screening.
“I was surprised when I came to the field. There were so many players there. My team was the last to play, and you had just 15 minutes to show yourself. “I scored two goals in the space of that 15 minutes.”
Amuneke, however, was not immediately convinced and asked everyone to leave. He eventually asked Osimhen to come again the following day so he could be appraised further.
He is grateful to the former African Footballer of the Year for “shaping me into the kind of player I want to be.” But Amuneke insists he already had all the tools needed to become a breakout star and that they were apparent right from the start.
“You could instantly tell when he came to the Under-17 camp that we have a striker capable of scoring goals and helping the team,” said Amuneke. “He had hunger, passion for the game, and extra motivation to succeed.” “It was not a difficult choice to pick him, and we saw that when he delivered.”
The 2015 Under-17 World Cup in Chile was the announcement of a star.
Unfortunately, his father did not get to see him make history. The games were played quite late in the day, and he did not have a generator to power a television on which to watch the games. He relied on second-hand reports from the other children as well as neighbors.
Alongside an attack featuring Samuel Chukwueze and Kelechi Nwakali, Osimhen scored in each of Nigeria’s matches to amass a total of 10 goals, propelling the Golden Eaglets to the trophy as the Golden Boot winner. To this day, nobody besides Osimhen has ever netted double digits for their nation across a U-17 World Cup.
Almost overnight, his son had become a sensation. He was named the Confederation of African Football’s 2015 Young Player of the Year. It was all happening so fast, and Osimhen admits he felt the pressure to “deliver quickly.”
Understandably, Osimhen wrestled with doubt. “It’s okay for people to write you off, but if you write yourself off, this is the worst thing.” I had to do something for my family to be proud of me, like they were before at the Under-17 World Cup.
Yes, I won the World Cup and the golden boot for my country in 2015, but what ranks as the biggest success was taking my family out of the slum and giving them a deservedly better life. Nothing else gives me more satisfaction in life than seeing them smile and laugh at last. Comfort is not hearing the fans scream my name, but my family having a reason to be happy at last. “I still want to do more for them.”
Since that time, Victor has not looked back and has grown to be the most sought-after striker in the world.
There are few stronger believers than the man who first introduced him to the world, and his assessment is the biggest indicator that there is more to come. “Victor is always ready to learn and still stays humble,” said former Barcelona and Sporting CP winger Amuneke.
“If he continues to stay disciplined and grounded, I believe he can go on to play for some of Europe’s biggest clubs and make a name for himself.” The world has not seen anything yet. “He is still only developing.”
But beyond this, Victor’s life story reminds us that the system for changing the outcome of your life is still the same.
Believe in yourself when nobody else is paying attention.
Hone your skills or talent so you can be a man or woman of value.
Show up every day.
One day, just one day, the universe will align with your dreams, and then one man or woman will take an interest in your life by taking a bet and changing it forever.
I have seen this happen several times, and I believe in my heart that it works.
The Victory Story is a reminder that nothing is impossible.
You can be born into poverty and still end up being the one to raise your family out of it, just like Victor did with his family.
I hope to see Victor Oshimem play for his darling. Boyhood club, Chelsea from next season.
Leading the line and scoring beautiful goals for this club I love so much while flying the Nigerian flag higher with a reminder that nothing is impossible.