Osimhen’s rise in France shows abundance of talents in Nigeria, says Onigbinde
When Victor James Osimhen hawked sachet water on the streets of Lagos as a seven-year-old lad, he never knew football would change the course of his life. The young lad was just a number among the numerous children striving to help their parents make ends meet in a country where survival is for the fittest.
But now, he is the main character in a grass to grace live story that has given many Nigerian youths the cause to dream of great things to come if they work hard. At the weekend, the former Lagos street boy was named the best African footballer in France for the 2019/2020 season. The award made him the second Nigerian, after Vincent Enyeama, to win the Marc Vivien Foe trophy.
In the season under review, Osimhen scored 18 goals to affirm his place as one of the best strikers in the French league. He is now the favourite bride of most of the top clubs in Europe.
Osimhen’s has been a journey from the lowest pitches in Nigeria to the heights of European football. Tracing the Super Eagles striker’s outstanding exploits at the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile to his present success in his first season with Lille OSC FC of France, former Super Eagles coach, Adegboye Onigbinde said Osimhen’s award in the French Ligue One has proved to football followers in the country that there are many exceptional talents on the streets of Nigeria waiting to be discovered and natured to stardom.
Onigbinde said Osimhen would not have been known in Nigerian football today if he was not given the opportunity to display his talents for the world to see at the 2015 U-17 World Cup.
Wondering why NPFL players were still being neglected by Super Eagles coaches when the country has over the years produced great strikers like Rashidi Yekini, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Odion Ighalo, Victor Ikpeba and now Osimhen, who started their early football careers in the streets of Nigeria, Onigbinde called on football stakeholders to put heads together to find ways to revamp the country’s grassroots football. system.
“The award given to Osimhen by the organisers of the French football league as the best African player in the league this session has exposed everything I have been saying. There are abundant football talents in the streets of Nigeria waiting to be discovered. This young lad did not grow or play football overseas before he was discovered. He played in the U-17 World Cup as a footballer from the grassroots. From there he launched himself into stardom.”
“This is a clear fact that we have many more young Nigerians like Osimhen that need to be discovered and nurtured. It pains me when the present Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr complains that there are no quality players in the NPFL, and people are not saying anything about it.
“If, for instance, the league does not have talented players like he said, what is the federation doing to revamp the system. Nigeria’s grassroots football needs total overhauling to create a process of discovering talents like Osimhen.
“Osimhen did not play in Europe before winning the U-17 highest goal scorer in 2015. If he was not given the opportunity by Nigerian coaches at that time, his career would have been terminated at his early age.
“I congratulate Osimhen for making the world know that Nigeria is still a force to reckon with in soccer,” he said
The Guardian recalls that Vincent Enyeama was the first Nigerian to win the best Africa player in the French Ligue 1.