There is more to come but we can start from here, after all, greatness starts when there is a shade of potential. And while Nigeria is blessed with talented folks from many industries, the sports industry produces greatness upon greatness. Whether our sportsmen stay at home to bloom or leave to conquer the world, we bear witness – years upon years, during different tournaments, on different stages – that Naija no dey carry last.
On Monday, Victor Osimhen broke a 24-year longstanding jinx since Kanu Nwankwo won the CAF Men’s Player of the Year Award in 1999. It was not just about the acceptance or the stories surrounding Victor receiving the award, it was the presence of something extraordinary, something emerging almost every year to shapeshift narratives. This year, Victor Osimhen has set and broken many records and you’d wonder how old he is. It is worthy to note that, despite the challenges Victor Osimhen endured through injuries at the beginning of his career in Wolfsburg, it took him just 24 years of his age to break a 24-year-old jinx, an award that was last held by a Nigerian when Osimhen was just a year old.
At the end of last season, after a successful spell in Italy, scoring many goals for Napoli to help the club raise Scudetto, the league title after thirty-three years, Victor Osimhen was rated by the Ballon d’Or as the eighth-best player on the planet. On X (Twitter), I read a tweet predicting almost eight years ago that Victor was going to win the African Men’s Player of the Year Award and that made me realise that greatness or potential is not so difficult to recognise.
Since receiving the award last night, social media has been buzzing with people congratulating Victor and his fellow country players, Asisat Oshola, who has now won the women’s Player of the Year Award for the sixth time and Chiamaka Nnadioze for being the best goalkeeper. This is an unprecedented time for sports in Nigeria and especially for Victor Osimhen for joining the league of legends like Rashidi Yekini, Emmanuel Amunike, Victor Ikpera, and Kanu Nwankwo who won the awards in 1993, 1994, 1997 and 1999 respectively. This is a great time to witness as a Nigerian and I’m glad I get to witness it.
Now, Victor Osimhen’s story not only signifies a personal achievement but also marks a pivotal moment in Nigerian sports history. We can say this is the beginning of a new era because a longstanding jinx has been broken and history has been made again. Outside of sports or athleticism, I believe Osimhen’s story exemplifies resilience, particularly for someone who has never been silent about his background and upbringing. He speaks his language, cruises with his countrymen, he’s humble and down to earth, and has a solid personality and reputation. He’s probably one of the most accessible Nigerian football players.
He is also an inspiration for whoever wishes to attain greatness. Whenever Victor scores a goal and his name is chanted in stadiums, I get goosebumps. The commentator shouts, “Victor!” and the audience chants in response, “Osimhen!”
Victor is still young and there is still a lot to come from him but what a time to be alive. What a time.
As a young boy who came from the streets of Olusosun, who had to hawk in traffic almost every day of the week while growing in-order to survive the numerous challenges my family and I were facing, becoming a Treasure in Africa and World Football was a wild dream. Words can’t… pic.twitter.com/D0zbdLI4wL
— Victor Osimhen (@victorosimhen9) December 12, 2023