17-year-old Victor Osihmen was the cynosure of all eyes at the recently concluded FIFA U-17 World Cup. The gangling striker not only emerge the highest goal scorer in Chile but his ten goals broke the competition’s long standing record. His selection for the U-23 team that is in Senegal confirms his rising stock. He discusses his resolve to become a top star in the game with ESTHER EGBE
WHO is Victor Osimhen?
He is the last born of a family of seven. His parents are from Edo State but he was born and bred in Lagos.
Tell us how you came into football?
I started like every kid in Nigeria. Kicking ball around with friends on the street and in school. Playing football always excites me and I never realised I had any special talents until a lot of people started telling how good I was and they kept talking about me taking the game serious. My first club is Olusosun FC in Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos.
What role did your mother play in nurturing your career?
My mother helped me a lot. She loved athletics and was a sprinter when she was alive. Its very saddening that she is not alive now to see how things have panned out. May her soul rest in peace. She supported me with all she had throughout her lifetime. Her dream was for me to become a great player.
What did you miss about your mother?
I miss everything about her, especially her motivation and encouragement. She always told me I could do it when I found the going tough. She would tell me to manage the torn boots as it would soon brought in better ones. Work hard and don’t fret she would say and that was pivotal in getting me to the limelight. It is really sad that I can’t give her anything from the little I have now.
Was about your dad?
My father is a very powerful man; I inherited my strength from him. He used to be a well respected wrestler in our village. He has also played an important role in my burgeoning career. I have been lucky to have understanding parents who were ready to do everything to ensure that I succeed.
So who found you out as a good footballer?
Well, first of all I want to thank God for the talent and secondly, the people who believed in my dream and strove to get me noticed. But they are so many, I can’t just name all. I am exceedingly grateful o them.
Who is Paul Irikhewe?
Coach Paul is my childhood coach, he is a great man and a teacher. He is like a father to me and he has done everything within his powers to push my career up.
There are rumours you are at loggerheads with the Ultimate Strikers FC coach?
I have never had any problem with any coach, that is not in my gene and such has not started. It is a rumour and remains that.
There were talks of your family having difficulty in paying house rent?
Yes, that is true. I was aware of the difficulties in meeting the payment. But God has been kind he has not let us down and I can begin to chip in now.
What is your favorite food?
Am not that selective when it comes to food, as long as the food is edible just bring it, I will eat.
Have you ever felt like giving up football?
Yes, when everything was tough. But there is always someone encouraging me and asking me never to give up. One of such people is Mr. Fash Sanni, our landlord first son. I am appreciative of him.
Who is your favourite Nigeria artist?
I have two; 2face and Olamide. I love their music and I can’t be bored listening to them.
Are you a good dancer?
I can’t judge myself but once in a while I shake to the rhythms.
How were you able to gain Amuneke’s trust?
Amuneke is a Nigeria football legend and thousand of players who came to the camps for him to see them tremble. Those of us who eventually made the team were perhaps luckier than the rest. Nigeria has some many fantastic players and I am certain the coaches had a difficult time selecting those that made the team. I won his heart by doing the right things and doing what he has instructed me to do.
Did you really score 45 goals on the Eaglets’ march to success in Chile?
Yes, I scored 45 goals under coach Amuneke. It is really exhilarating. The coach always make me feel special, he always seem to be able to motivate me and I see him as a father.
What has your success with the Golden Eaglets done to your career?
I am still in the clouds. I know Nigeria have an amazing record at the FIFA U-17 competition but I never dreamed I would one day win the competition or beat any record. We just wanted to make Nigerians happy, there was no attempt to win any individual awards but it turned out that way. Many of the players are now confident that they have what it takes to be true professionals and make a successful career in the game. For me, I want to work harder and reach new levels.
Is it true that you have signed for Tottenham Hotspurs?
I don’t know who is spreading the news about me signing with the English club. I am yet to sign with any club. I am taking my time and my agents are the ones in charge of that.
What European club would you like to join?
I just want to be consistent. So I think a club that will give me game time to develop should be the best one for me now. When my game improves then I can think of joining the club of my choice.
Which striker would you want to model your game after?
I love how former Cote d’Ivoire and Chelsea striker Didier Drogba played and it will be a great honor if my career take a similar path.
How do you feel about the N20k reward from the president?
I didn’t feel sad about it. It has only motivated me to do more and better. It has helped me focus on the future; that is going to be bigger.
How did you spend the money?
It was spent on my transportation back to my house at Abule Egba.
How do you feel about your invitation to U 23?
Wow, I felt on top of my career. Even with my exploits in Chile, it’s like a dream. It shows that the country is taking the right path. I thank God for his kindness. I hope to give my all to the team if given the chance. This will help the cause of players of junior sides to get immediate look into senior sides.
What exactly made you stand out in Chile?
I don’t see myself as more special than any other person so it was the grace of God and I can’t really thank him enough.
What is your favorite jersey number?
I love jersey number 9.
Who is your favourite teammate in the Eaglets?
We were all like a family and we relate like that. I don’t try to relate differently with anyone, I am home and comfortable with all.
In your short career, which coach has impressed you most?
Coach Emmanuel Amuneke is like a father and mentor.
Which Nigeria striker do you rate?
Obafemi Martins and Awoniyi Taiwo are players I respect so much and want to follow their footsteps.
Did Barcelona offer you 211.85m?
Don’t know anything about that, if there was any offer my representative would have informed me. But there was nothing like that.
When was your best time on pitch?
That was at the World Cup in Chile. It was a great time for me and learned a lot of new things.