Apologies to Club and Fans
By Alexander Johnson Adejoh
What could be termed the reckless actions which led to Napoli striker Victor Osimhen testing positive for COVID-19 after a trip to Nigeria will serve as a steep learning curve, Fides discovered.
And that lesson, as many sports people have discovered in the past few months, is that attending a party, especially without mask, during a pandemic is likely to end up on video and get you into trouble.
Osimhen who was moved to offer a very strong apology to the club and his fans last week for testing positive for coronavirus after a visit to Nigeria over the festive season noted that his actions were regretted.
A video subsequently emerged showing him at what appeared to be a party, spraying money on attendees. It was not a good look for the forward, and the club was reportedly looking at fining him for the breach.
Osimhen’s international coach Gernot Rohr, and close adviser Osita Okolo, explained that what happened was a genuine error which the player deeply regrets.
‘You know Victor. He is young. He is very humble. This was for him, a mistake, but he will learn and he will be strong after,’ Rohr said.
Fides recalls that Napoli’s Osimhen missed several weeks after picking up a shoulder injury while on Nigeria duty last November, and then had to go into quarantine for two weeks in the New Year after attending a party in Nigeria and picking up COVID-19.
Okolo disclosed that it was all an unfortunate series of circumstances, ‘He had no plans to attend a party and did not go out of his way to do so.
‘He was actually home sleeping when some members of his family decided to throw a surprise party for him.
‘They woke him up and got him to come downstairs and out of respect for everyone, he came down, but he spent less than 10 minutes before going back to his room.
‘It is just unfortunate that things turned out the way they did because all he wanted to do was come home and spend time with his family and then go back and do his best for his club,’.
However, Osimhen was quick to issue an apology: ‘I am so sorry for what happened. I was wrong to go to Nigeria in this moment, even if I have many loved ones over there, including my brothers.
‘I was wrong to take part in the party. I didn’t understand the severity of what I was doing. I apologise to the club, the coach, the team and the fans,’.
He also enjoyed the support of his manager Genarro Gattuso, who told the club website: ‘He knows he’s made a mistake and he’s apologized,’.
Rohr says Gattusso’s handling of the situation is a reflection of both the player’s previous spotless behaviour the respect that the coach has for his record signing.
He said: ‘When you have a good player, who is very humble and he makes a mistake, you try to help him. Also the coach respects him that is why he will speak to him to help him,’.
Moreso, Fides gathered that it was the first big misstep in the career of the young Nigerian, who has enjoyed a largely trouble-free career since emerging as a star with Nigeria at the under 17 World Cup in 2015.
His goal scoring and potential so impressed Rohr when he took over as Nigerian coach in 2016 that he immediately called the youngster up for the Nigeria men’s senior team and kept him on the squad even during his lean years in Belgium and before his move to France.
Also, he got an opportunity during the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019, where Nigeria finished third behind Algeria and Senegal, but since taking over as lead striker, Osimhen has become of the more deadly strikers on the continent in AFCON qualifying, where he has scored four goals in four qualifying games.