Thursday, 21st September 2023

Valuable lessons from Victor Osimhen

By Editorial Board
02 June 2023   |   4:10 am
At home and abroad, a Nigerian is in the news for his talent and exceptional feat in football. He is Victor Osimhen, the Super Eagles striker, who currently plays for an Italian side, Napoli Football Club.

Victor James osimhen. Photo : Ulrik Pedersen / Icon Sport

At home and abroad, a Nigerian is in the news for his talent and exceptional feat in football. He is Victor Osimhen, the Super Eagles striker, who currently plays for an Italian side, Napoli Football Club. He rescued his club from decades of obscurity and lack-lustre performance to clinch the championship of Serie A. Besides his rags to riches motivational story, he is a good example in patriotism and self-belief, despite all odds.

Remarkably, Osimhen rose to stardom and became fans’ favourite for his many exploits for his team, and the Thursday, May 4 winning goal, was the icing on the cake. Osimhen had scored 23 goals in 23 matches across all competitions to thrust Napoli to the threshold of a historic Scudetto (the award given to the champions of Italy’s top division of professional soccer). With his dexterity and doggedness, he helped his club Napoli to a 1-1 draw away at Udinese, to clinch the Italian Serie A title.
Osimhen’s importance to the club was noticeable, as it tottered when he suffered an injury and was temporarily off the pitch. His come-back would see his club to an elusive victory since 1990 when the maverick player, Diego Maradona, made it possible. He had led the team in the decades in question from irrelevance to two Serie A championships and the UEFA. Along the beaten track, Osimhen brought the team to the limelight once again. The victory by dint of his hard work was a dream come true for many fans that had waited for this moment for quite some decades.
The expectations were that the Nigerian international would become the first African player to win the Italian Serie A Golden Boot award with 22 goals in this campaign. He had broken Samuel Eto’o’s record (21) for the most goals scored by an African Player in a single Serie A season and paralleled George Weah’s record for the highest African goal scorer in Serie A with 46 goals that earned him accolade from the player-turned-politician and head of state of Liberia. An elated President Weah said he was proud of Osimhen’s exploits and congratulated him and attributed the feat to “hard work, dedication and tenacity” while urging him to bring more laurels. In his words, “You have won one Scudetto. Great! When I won my first Scudetto with Milan, I said to myself, why one, why not two? I went on to win another Scudetto with Milan. I went on to win the Ballon d’Or…So, why not two or more for you, Victor? The sky is your limit. With your dedication, commitment, humility, and hard work, you can conquer the World. Africa needs another World Best. Africa needs another European Best. You, Victor, can deliver that for us.”
However, the expectation that Osimhen would be crowned the king, instead of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, was dashed. This was accentuated by the pictorial illustration on the official Serie A Twitter account that shows the late Diego Maradona crowning Khvicha Kvaratskhelia; and beside the photo was a message that said, “A new king is crowned in Napoli.” This act appeared to have diminished his effort thereby provoking racist accusations. Obviously, Nigerians were not happy as the post suggested the Italian top-flight football league downplayed the contribution of Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen, to the title this season.
Over time, social Darwinism has subjugated one race to another and reified racial superiority. This was the case during the colonial era on the continent, and the diaspora community. It engendered resistance in intellectual articulation. In the French colonies, French intellectuals like Count Arthur de Gobineau wrote: The Inequality of the Human Races in 1853, to prove that the differences between the principal racial groups in terms of their civilising influence are intellectually based. He further argued that civilisations decline and fall when the races are mixed, proclaiming the superiority of the white race in ways that justified racial oppression. This did not go without rebuttal from Antenor Firmin, who authored: The Equality of the Human Races in 1885, described as an early harbinger of Pan-Africanism, it highlighted the civilisational achievements of African cultures, from ancient Egypt up to the Nile Valley countries. Senghorian negritude would later build on this to assert the contribution of Africans to human civilisation to earn the spank of Paul Satre for anti-racist racism. Racism is enduring but Africans must never be hobbled by it.
It is to be noted the Neapolitans fans acknowledged the contribution of Osimhen whether he wears the crown or not. His photographs adorn public transport platforms in that part of Italy, perhaps, a remarkable testament to his contribution more than anything else.
Osimhen’s relevance lies in the lessons of his career. He rose from a nobody to somebody. He has talents and such have taken him to where it was appreciated and paid for. If our country were to be better organised, talents like Osimhen would remain to contribute to the sports sector and the overall development of the country. The minders of our country leave much to be desired.

In this article