Know Your African Star: Victor Osimhen


By Caroly Kipkoech

Victor Osimhen is a Nigerian forward born on 29 February 1998. The professional plays for Serie A club SSC Napoli. Born and raised in Olususon village, Ojota area in Lagos, the prolific forward cites Didier Drogba as his football idol growing up.

He is currently ranked as one of the best strikers in the world. Known for his athleticism, pace, physicality and aerial capabilities, Osimhen was listed in a 25-man provisional list for the 2019 African Cup of Nations tournament in Egypt and was further listed in the final list for the tournament. In the match for third place, he replaced the injured Odion Ighalo at half-time in the team’s 1-0 victory over the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia.

Victor Osimhen in action against Spanish giants FC Barcelona in a UEFA Champions League match, where he equalized to earn a 1-1 draw for his side on February 21st 2024

Osimhen began his footballing career at the Ultimate Strikers Academy in Lagos. In January 2016, after being noticed for his performances at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2015, Osimhen committed to a pre-contract with German club VfL Wolfsburg, stipulating that he would officially join the club in January 2017.

In January 2017, the Nigerian signed a three-and-a-half deal with the German outfit, which lasted till mid-2020. However, his spell didn’t last long as his stay wasn’t fruitful, ending his stay with 12 appearances in the top-flight German league (Bundesliga).

In 2018, Osimhen joined Belgian club Sporting Charleroi, on a season-long loan. He later flourished playing 36 games with 20 goals to his name, a performance that attracted interest from a lot of clubs around Europe.

Despite being a target for most clubs, French outfit LOSC Lille confirmed Osimhen’s signing on 1 August 2019, penning down a five-year contract. The Nigerian’s spell at the French outfit proved to be a success, scoring 13 goals in 25 Ligue 1 matches in his debut season, earning him the 2020 Prix Marc Vivien  Award, an honour given to Africa’s best-performing players in Ligue 1.

After his stay in Lille, he moved to Serie A giants Napoli, in a club-record fee of € 70 million. The move made Osimhen the most expensive African player to date. Since his move, he has had a couple of stellar performances, key highlight being a 4-1 win against Atalanta, in which he scored his debut goal, lifting up his jersey, calling for an end to police brutality in Nigeria, his home country.

Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen in action against Angola during the AFCON semifinals in Ivory Coast on February 2, 2024

In September 2021, Osimhen unfortunately injured his skull and eye socket in a tight fixture with rivals Inter Milan, in which Napoli lost 3-2. The injury made the Napoli forward be booked for immediate surgery. After the medical attention, medics advised him to wear a protective mask.

He came into his own for the Serie A outfit after scoring a hat-trick against Sassuolo, a match that ended 4-1 in favour of the Blues. The spectacular performance saw him surpass Simeon Tochukwu Nwankwo (Simy) as the highest-scoring Nigerian in the Italian top flight.

Osimhen has been a key part of the Napoli squad, scoring an equaliser against Udinese, a match that ended 1-1 in May 2023, confirming Napoli as Serie A champions for the first time in a record 33 years. The historic goal, not only made Napoli champions but also made Osimhen the African with the most goals in a single Italian championship season, alongside Ballon d’Or winner and former Liberian President George Weah.

Victor Osimhen has a contract with Napoli which runs until December 2026, he confirmed his stay at the Italian outfit in a contract signed in December 2023.

Victor Osimhen signing new Napoli contract in December 2023.

Osimhen at a glance:

Name: Victor James Osimhen
Clubs played for:
Wolfsburg, Charleroi, Lille, Napoli (current)

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