Victor Osimhen has just won one of the highest prizes for an African footballer: the African Men’s Player of the Year. The last time a Nigerian man received such an award was in 1999, with Nwankwo Kanu. It’s a victorious year for Nigerian football indeed, with Asisat Oashala securing the women’s award for the sixth time.
The ceremony took place in Marrakech, Morocco, and it was the well-deserved coronation of a fantastic season. Come with us and check out the most memorable moments of Osimhen in 2023.
A Neapolitan Hero
If you watched any Napoli game for the Serie A this season, you probably saw Osimhen scoring a goal. Indeed, you most probably succeeded if you took your chances on an Osimhen goal on any online soccer betting site. The Nigerian striker shook the net 26 times in 32 games last season.
He scored seven goals during Serie A 2023, leading Napoli’s scoreboard. He was only one goal behind the vice-leader, Olivier Giroud. Osimhen’s astonishingly precise performances earned the nickname “Mr Hat-Trick” among Napoli supporters. In 2022, he wrote his name in the club’s history as a central figure in its first Serie A title since 1990.
The Nigerian striker’s brilliance isn’t new to European fans. He also scored 18 goals for Lille in his passage to the elite of French football. Mr Hat-Trick scored four goals for the Nigerian national team during the AFCON. Osimhen has always been a high-level player, but he’s been unstoppable lately.
Five Unforgettable Moments
If you’ve been following football-related news this year, you might have noticed that Osimhen’s name is often in the headlines. Undoubtedly, there was plenty to celebrate. Here are some of the best moments of Nigeria’s newest legend:
Bulldozing an Old Enemy
The inter-city rivalry between Napoli and Juventus dates from the early 20th century. Since 1926, there have been 180 encounters, and Juventus won most of them. Osimhen allowed Napoli supporters to taste revenge when Gli Azzurri imposed a humiliating 5-1 defeat in January 2023. The striker delivered a spotless performance considered one of the best in his career. The first goal came in 14 minutes, and he assisted two other goals.
The love story between Napoli and Osimhen went through some rough patches this year. Back in September, the club’s performance was less than impressive, counting three defeats in a row. The club resented the winless run and took its TikTok accounts to make fun of the Nigerian player, in two posts. Osimhen’s agent was about to take the case to court before the club deleted the posts.
Napoli faced Udinese the next day, thrashing the Bianconeri by 4-1. Despite personal attacks on his image, Osimhen’s performance was, once again, game-changing. He scored Napoli’s second goal and kept encouraging his colleagues, a fitting response to trolls. Several fans also criticised the club’s posts, and Osimhen was ovated by the crowds.
Diego Maradona is a legend in Napoli’s history. The Argentinian genius played for Gli Azzurri between 1984 and 1991. During this period, the club won its last Serie A title before 2022-23. Osimhen brought the title back and helped the team in a historical Champions League campaign.
The club made it to the quarterfinals for the first time, an achievement that not even Maradona could brag about. Gli Azzurri’s adventure in the Champions League ended after a draw with AC Milan in the second leg. The Nigerian striker did his part, scoring Napoli’s only goal while recovering from an injury.
A Hat-Trick in the AFCON
Osimhen showed Nigerian fans why he’s nicknamed Mr Hat-Trick in Italy during the match against Sao Tome and Principe. The Super Eagles crushed their opponents 6-0, with three goals by Osimhen. He opened the score at 14 minutes and shook the nets twice towards the end of the game. His final goal came in the 80th minute, and it was his tenth goal during AFCON qualifiers.
Best Striker in Serie A
Last June, Osimhen was named the best striker in Serie A during the 2022-23 season. The award was published on the league’s website. It was based on statistical and positional data. The Hawk-Eye system used to track players’ data records delivers a detailed analysis where game choices and optimum movements are also considered. Additionally, he was listed as one of the most valuable players in that season.
Africa’s Best Man On The Field
Take a quick look at Osimhen’s performance in 2023: it’s not surprising that he’s the African Footballer of the Year. He’s also writing history at home, inspiring a new generation, rising as one of the best strikers worldwide. He also baffles those who saw Kanu pulling similar tricks over 20 years ago.