By Jude Atupulazi
Let’s first look at these below before we start
THE GUY IN GREEN
– He lost his mother at a young age
– His father lost his job 3 months after he lost his wife
– He sold pure water on the streets of Lagos
– He was rejected by many clubs but today is one of BEST players in the world and it started with 15 MINUTES!
He was barely 13 when he lost his mum and as if that wasn’t enough, 3months after losing his mum, his father lost his job.
His father losing his job meant them moving from a 2 bedroom flat to a SELF-CONTAINED. Now imagine 8 people living in a self-contained apartment.
A TOUGH START!
He was the last amongst 7 kids but he didn’t get the special treatment given to “Last Borns” in Nigerian homes.
He rather joined his elder siblings in hustling to make sure they survived, he hawked “Pure water” along Ojota Road, Lagos State.
A BORN HUSTLER!
His siblings sold newspapers and sold oranges on the streets, it was a family united in making sure they survived.
He lived in one of Lagos State’s biggest refuse dump sites in Olusosun but that didn’t stop the young boy from dreaming; in fact he dreamt big!
DREAM BIG, IT’S FREE!
His father wanted him to become a doctor but he dropped out of school to pursue his dream of becoming a footballer and his father supported him.
He played street football and was a youth player of the then Ultimate Strikers Academy, but he never played.
PERSONALIZE YOUR DREAM!
In 2014 at age 16 he went for the Nigeria Under-17 team screening held in Abuja by coach Amuneke.
More than 2 million players were in the Abuja stadium and they were both given 15 MINUTES to impress.
In 15 MINUTES he scored 2 goals!
“LUCK IS WHEN OPPORTUNITY MEETS PREPARATION”
It wasn’t enough as the tired Amuneke sent him and the others away.
But as they left, he heard the Nigeria team doctor telling the coach, Amuneke, to try out “The guy in green”.
Coach Amuneke turned and called out, “The guy in green!!!”, he turned because he wore green, ran back and the coach teased him saying, “You no dey chop?, why you lean like this, sit down!”.
“MAY OUR DESTINY HELPERS NEVER MISS US”
And that was how he got selected into the Under-17 WC team, he later went on to win the following;
2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup
2015 FIFA U-17 Golden Boot (Highest Goal Scorer)
2015 FIFA Silver shoe award (Second Best Player)
Then the European big clubs came calling.
THE BEGINNING OF BIGGER THINGS.
On January 5th, 2017, he signed for German club, Wolfsburg, and was supposed to start living the right life, but it got tougher for him.
The coach that brought him to Germany got sacked and he got injured in his right knee and had to be operated 3 different times.
A TALE OF WOES AT WOLFSBURG
After surgery, he started training to get fit, while training, he had a shoulder injury that needed another surgery.
After surgery he came back to Nigeria to be with his family and get fitter before returning to Germany. He got better and even went to church for thanksgiving but…
IT GOT TOUGHER
He was about to travel back to Germany, he had his bags packed when he woke and found himself in a hospital bed in Lagos.
Wolfsburg thought he didn’t want to come back for pre-season and asked for doctor’s report and pictures which he did (send).
He was diagnosed of malaria and typhoid.
He got better, traveled back to Wolfsburg and for 3weeks he was quarantined away from the team.
Wolfsburg decided to loan him and he agreed because he wanted to play football. He even decided to play for the lower division of the German League but a top Belgian side came for him.
ZULTE WAREGEM in Belgium wanted him on loan, so he went to train with them, they tested him and found out he still had malaria but the coach told him to keep training.
For 3 weeks he trained, scored goals in training and the coach promised him the club would sign him.
Finally an escape route but on the eve to the day he would be signed, his agent was called and told he wasn’t needed again.
He went to Wolfsburg who relegated him to the Under-19 team to train so he could be fit to be loaned out later. Whilst training, another club called.
It was the Belgian Champions, CLUB BRUGGE. He was happy, went to Belgium where he passed his medicals and the team doctor told him it’s left for the club president to make the move official.
The deal was never made official as Club President turned down the deal. He was broken!!
He went back to Germany where he would wake up by 4am to cry. He told his agent not to worry about any transfer again so as to allow him stay and fight for his place in Germany.
On a Wednesday morning, 5 days to the closure of the European transfer market, he got another call.
It was a call from another Belgian Club, this time CHARLEROI FC, a voice introduced himself as the Club president and told him “Can you come to Charleroi, I want to sign you?”
He left for Belgium on road with his agent and they spent 7 hours. When he got to Belgium…HE GOT SIGNED.
For a player that hasn’t scored a goal in 2 years of turning pro, he scored 20 goals in 36 appearances for the club and later left to join French Club, Lille.
He went to France and scored 18 goals, making him a fan favorite among the Lille faithful, but that was just the start of his story.
Italian giants, Napoli FC, broke their transfer record to make him the most expensive African player when they paid Lille $96M (N39.7 billion).
And just yesterday he led Napoli to their first Serie A title in 33 years, breaking all sorts of records along the way.
He’s now the African with the Most Goals scored in a single Serie A season, breaking Samuel Eto’s record.
HE BECAME THE PRINCE OF NAPLES!!!
John Ogu called him a beast with a lion’s heart. Odion Ighalo called him the Crown Prince to the throne of Nigerian attackers. He is one of the hottest top prospects in world football at the moment
He is VICTOR JAMES OSIMHEN
Dream big and never stop trying.
The above sounds fantastic, right? It sure does and is an experience that would have broken the resolve of the strongest of men, but not Victor Osimhen. Raised in the slums of Lagos, Victor came face to face with hardship on a daily basis but he never stopped hustling. He even sold sachet water or what we call pure water here. I’m sure at the time no one knew he would someday become one of the greatest ambassadors of his country, even if not in the real sense.
Today, Osimhen is ruling the soccer world in France where he has just propelled his team, Napoli, to league glory after 33 long years, becoming the highest African goal scorer, even above the legendary George Weah, now president of Liberia. Soccer legend, the late Diego Armando Maradona, once played for Napoli and that was the last time the team hugged the lime lights.
Why am I talking about Victor Osimhen? We are in an age when many young people have developed an aversion for hard work. They prefer the easy route and would readily blame everyone for their woes. And this is after wasting their opportunities. They have no stomach for difficulties and would easily give up in difficult times. The next thing is for them to turn to crime, that cowardly option.
We have many of them today as armed robbers and kidnappers. They wait in ambush for those working hard and when those people make it in life they swoop on them and either rob them or kidnap them for ransom.
Osimhen could easily have been one of such never-do-wells and many could have ”understood” his reason, given his background and lack of opportunities to fulfill his potential. But he shied away from a life of crime and hustled. He tried every legitimate opportunity to change his life positively. And when the opportunity to play football came calling he embraced it with determination and despite all the difficulties he encountered, he stuck to it until he made it.
This is why the story of Victor Osimhen is particularly important at this moment. The money he makes at his club is more than the salary of any politician in Nigeria. If he wants to, he can even buy his village. But Osimhen remains humble, still remembering his humble beginning. He is today a role model to every struggling youth. He is a reminder to them that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Last week many soccer buffs must have shed tears as they saw the whole stadium erupt in praise of Osimhen for his contributions in his club’s success this season. They sang his name in gratitude. Had he given up before now, this moment would never have arrived.
To all those lazy youths out there, you have no reason to live a life of criminality. There are many menial jobs you can do to survive. The main thing is doing it well, so well that you will stand out. Once you stand out, opportunities will come. It does not matter where you are. You can try and fail but what matters is not staying down. Get up and try again as the next attempt may just be your salvation.
I join millions of Nigerian soccer lovers in celebrating Victor Osimhen. His victory is our victory and also a victory for all the struggling youths of Nigeria.
All hail the New Prince of Naples!