Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images.

How Victor Osimhen Wrote His Name in Naples History

The Nigerian and Napoli star led the Italian club to their first Serie A title in 33 years. It was a fairytale season to remember.

On May 7, 2023, the air was visibly euphoric at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in Naples, Italy. Fathers, mothers, and children supporting the home team cheered loudly throughout the entirety of the home team’s duel with Fiorentina, hailing every kick, pass, and clearance from their players.

Truth be told, the home support could be scarcely concerned with the result of that game as much as they were invested in creating a celebratory atmosphere ahead of full-time. Just three days earlier, Napoli had secured the Serie A title following a terse 1-1 draw away to Udinese. On that Sunday evening at the Maradona Stadium, Napoli just wanted to party with its new heroes.

The laudatory aspirations of the Partenopei faithful were kicked off with a slender 1-0 win, secured courtesy of a late Victor Osimhenpenalty. At the end of the game, as the league-winning players were introduced to the stadium individually, some of the loudest cheers were reserved for Osimhen.

It has not been a strange sight this season to see home fans feverishly chanting the name of the 24-year-old Nigerian striker. Against the backdrop of a historic title charge that has resulted in Napoli’s first Scudetto in 33 years, Osimhen has typified the Southern Italy club’s ethos of bravery, character, and fearlessness.

Operating as one of Napoli’s principal attacking outlets, Osimhen has battled and harried his way to the top of the goalscorers’ chart in Italy this season. In doing so, he dragged Napoli to its first Serie A title since the glory days of the irrepressible Diego Maradona. True to the Neapolitan tradition of deifying its most popular spotting icons, Osimhen has become an object of public adoration, forever writing his name into Naples' history.

“You still don’t know what you did, trust me,” former Italian champion, Mario Balotelli, told Osimhen hours after his equaliser against Udinese that secured the title. “Now you’ve won, you will realize in years, not tomorrow, next year but in ten years you’ll understand what you did. It’s unbelievable, seriously.”

Early Years

Despite what the current trajectory of Osimhen’s career might suggest, the footballer's journey to the top of the game has not been all plain sailing. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, on the 29th of December 1998, Osimhen was the last of six children born to a family with origins in Esan South East Local Government Area of Edo State in Nigeria. The striker, who grew up in the Olusosun area of Lagos, has often recounted the story of how life got tough following the death of his mother and his father losing his job.

“I really hustled on the streets of Lagos and toyed with the idea of doing so many things initially," Osimhen told CAFOnline in 2015. As a kid, he sold sachet water in Lagos’ notorious traffic gridlocks and maintained an interest in music while admiring Nigerian rapper, Olamide.

Osimhen got his earliest football education playing pick-up games on the streets of Lagos, where he honed the intense and improvisational style that has made him one of the best strikers in world football. He also picked up some skills from his brother who was a striker on a local team.

With Drogba as an icon and his brother mentoring him, Victor joined the Ultimate Strikers Academy in Lagos where he started to attract the interest of local scouts and recruiters.

Golden Eaglets

Osimhen entered national consciousness as a part of the 2015 Nigerian U-17 team coached by Nigerian football legend, Emmanuel Amuneke. Selected from a group of over 3,000 players, Osimhen justified Amuneke’s faith in him by leading Nigeria to the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations U-17 competition. He also finished as the top scorer in that competition with four goals.

More success was on the horizon for the striker at the U-17 World Cup scheduled to be held in Chile later in 2015. Taking advantage of the presence of scouts from across the world and the global profile of the World Cup, Osimhen led Nigeria to the title. He also scored 10 goals on the way to the title, setting a new record for the highest number of goals scored at a U-17 World Cup finals.

Move To Europe

Following his stellar performances at the U-17 World Cup, Osimhen was scouted by a number of European clubs. In January 2016, it was announced that he had committed to a pre-contract with German top-flight team, Wolfsburg, joining up with the team in January 2017.

Upon joining Wolfsburg, Osimhen was tipped to make an impression in Europe but the move didn’t quite pan out as he expected as a mix of poor form, injuries, and little game time meant that Osimhen’s development did not proceed as expected. In total, he made 16 appearances for Wolfsburg without getting on the scoresheet.

Ahead of the 2018/2019 season, he held trials with Belgian clubs, Club Brugge and Zulte Waregem, looking to join a team but his poor physical condition after a bout with malaria ruled out a move. A move to fellow Belgian top-flight club, Charleroi, beckoned with the youngster joining a loan with an option to buy. He immediately took to life in the south of Belgium, scoring 20 goals in 38 appearances. At the end of the season, Charleroi swiftly took up their option to confirm Osimhen’s purchase from Wolfsburg.

After one season with Charleroi, it was evident that Osimhen was ready for a step up. With French club, LOSC Lille, seeking a new goalscoring threat after the sale of Nicolas Pépé to Arsenal, they soon fixed their attention on Osimhen. He was duly signed on a deal worth €12 million plus another €3m in various bonuses and add-ons.

Another successful season followed for the rising star. He was named the Ligue 1 player of the month for September 2019 and scored a goal against English giants, Chelsea, during Lille’s 2-1 loss to them in a UEFA Champions League tie. At the end of the season, he had scored 18 goals from 38 appearances.

Naples Beckons: The Italia Years

Convinced of Osimhen’s quality, Napoli’s president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, shelled out €70 million to sign Osimhen in a deal potentially rising to €80 million with add-ons. The deal instantly made him the most expensive African transfer to date.

Osimhen’s time in Naples has been a learning curve for the striker who has had to adapt to being rotated due to the talent at the Neopolitan club. He has, however, made an impression when called upon.

On October 17, 2020, after scoring his first goal for the club in a dominant 4-1 win against Atalanta, Osimhen held up a shirt to decry police brutality in Nigeria and show support for the #EndSARS movement in the country. Ultimately, his first season in the club was disrupted by a shoulder injury but he still ended up registering 10 goals from 30 appearances.

His second season saw a return to the clinical reputation that he built at Charleroi and LOSC Lille as he scored 18 goals from 32 appearances. Unfortunately, injuries crept in and he sustained a horrific head injury during a game against Inter Milan at the San Siro.

That injury and a COVID-19 diagnosis ruled the young striker out of contention for the 2022 African Cup Of Nations where he was billed to be a top performer. Upon return, Osimhen was required to wear a protective mask and has since continued to wear it, making it a key part of his identity with boys and girls in Naples emulating him by wearing the mask over kits with his name on it.

The Record-Breaking Season

Napoli experienced a change of guard ahead of the 2022/2023 season with a number of key players leaving the club. Captain, Lorenzo Insigne, moved to the MLS to join Toronto FC. Long-time fan favourite, Dries Mertens, also left following the expiration of his contract while Senegalese defender, Kalidou Koulibaly, moved away to join Chelsea. As part of a new core at the club, there were big expectations for Osimhen and he has delivered impeccably.

Alongside Georgian wunderkind, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, he has established a lethal duo that has struck fear into the heart of defenses across Italy and Europe. Leading the line for Napoli this season, Osimhen has broken record after record. On November 11, 2023, after a goal in a 2-1 victory against Atlanta, he became the leading Nigerian goalscorer in Serie A history.

For many watchers, Osimhen’s definitive performance this season came in a 5-1 demolition of Italian heavyweights, Juventus, in January 2023. Running the Juve backline ragged, he scored two goals and recorded one assist in the rout. Just one month later, he reached the 100-goal career landmark with a strike during Napoli’s 2-0 win against Sassuolo.

More acclaim has also come in the UEFA Champions League where he scored five goals from six appearances. Over two round-of-16 ties against German opposition, Eintracht Frankfurt, he scored three goals and added another one during the second leg of his club’s quarter-final tie against AC Milan.

Predictably, it was an Osimhen goal that clinched the league title for Napoli, sweeping home a rebound from Kvaratskhelia’s blocked shot during the 1-1 tie with Udinese on the 4th of May 2023. That goal meant that Napoli won the league with five games to spare.

Another goal from the penalty spot in the game against Fiorentina three days later meant that he had reached 23 league goals for the season. It also meant that he was the African player with the most Italian league goals in one season, breaking Samuel Eto’o’s record.

As it is Osimhen is on track to win the Capocannoniere award traditionally awarded to the top goal scorer in Italy with his closest rival, Lautaro Martinez, four goals behind him.

International Duties

From the start of his career, Osimhen has been viewed as a potential player for the Nigerian senior national team. That became a reality when he made his debut for the country during a 2-0 loss to South Africa in June 2017. Since then, he has become the talisman of the national team, scoring 15 goals in 24 appearances.

Osimhen has, however, only been to one major international tournament with Nigeria, making one appearance in the third-place match at the 2019 African Cup Of Nations in Egypt.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images.

The Reign of Mohamed Salah

After a false start at Chelsea, the Egyptian football superstar has taken the world by surprise, one record-breaking achievement at a time.

With over 300 career goals in more than 600 professional games, Mohamed Salah has written his name in the history books as one of the finest players to come out of Egypt and, by extension, Africa. Affectionately referred to as The Pharaoh, the nimble-footed magician has etched his memory in folklore thanks to a series of spell-binding performances for Liverpool.

Across a six-year spell, Salah has established himself as the talisman of one of the greatest Liverpool F.C. teams of all time while helping the club to end a 30-year wait for a league title to return to Anfield.

In addition to his record-breaking achievements on Merseyside, Salah has helped propel the Egyptian football national team to an enviable position in African football. In the 12 years since making his senior debut for Egypt, Salah has guided his country back to footballing prominence following a period of obscurity after two political revolutions and the 2012 Port Said Stadium tragedy.

With his picture-perfect smile, charismatic persona, and zest for sporting excellence, Salah has risen to prominence as a totem for football’s best ideals and precepts. Still, the man born in Nagrig, Egypt, has had to spend a significant portion of his life navigating obstacles in the way of his dreams. However, every roadblock has only served as further encouragement to achieve his dream of playing professionally and rising to the pinnacle of the sport he loves.

The Early Years

Mohamed Salah was born on the 15th of June, 1992, in Nagrig, a village near Basyoun, located in the Gharbia Governorate of Egypt. As a child, Salah wasn’t particularly interested in academics. He threw himself instead into football, establishing himself as a talent to watch out for at age seven. Most of the hallmarks of Salah’s game were developed on the streets of Nagrig, where he had to compete against opponents older than him and more physically developed.

By age 13, Salah’s talent was evident and he was scouted by an agent of Al Mokawloon, a team based in Cairo and competing in the Egyptian top division. Agreeing to join Al Mokawloon set the stage for Salah’s career to kick off and formed the basis for the most popular story from his childhood. Due to Nagrig being 82 miles away from Al Mokawloon’s training facilities in the suburbs of Cairo, Salah had to make a grueling three-hour trip to training five-days-a week from age 14.

Additionally, joining the Al Mokawloon youth teams, Salah was originally used as a left-back but after one game where he reportedly wasted five clear-cut chances, he was pushed up to the right-forward position, where he has since made his name.

Breaking Into The Al Mokawloon First Team

Salah’s performances soon impressed Al Mokawloon’s manager, Mohamed Radwan, who promoted him to the first team. He made his debut for the first team on May 3, 2010, coming on as a substitute against El Mansoura. By the 2010/2011 season, Salah had become a regular member of the team even if he wasn’t exactly prolific.

By the time the 2011/2012 season came along, Salah was firmly ensconced in the Al Mokawloon starting line-up, starting every game of the season. But then, the tragic events of the Port Said Stadium riots happened on February 1, 2012, eventually forcing the Egyptian Football Association to cancel the remainder of the domestic season.

Move To Basel

Following the Port Said Stadium riots, Swiss giants, FC Basel, organized a friendly match with the Egyptian under-23 team with a view to seeing Salah perform in person. A second-half brace by Salah, resulting in a 4-3 win for the Egyptians, ensured that Salah was offered a deal to sign with FC Basel on a four-year contract. Problems adapting to a new city and learning a new language did not dissuade the young Egyptian keen to make his mark on European football.

Replacing FC Basel hero, Xherdan Shaqiri, Salah played a starring role throughout the campaign, scoring 10 goals in 50 appearances and helping FC Basel to win the Swiss top-flight championship. Significantly, the club reached the semi-final of the Europa League, losing 5-2 on aggregate to English giants Chelsea despite Salah scoring during one of the ties at Stamford Bridge.

A second season at Basel was cut short when Salah moved to Chelsea in January 2014 after scoring against the English club again in both legs of a Champions League group-stage tie. Despite moving in January, his contributions were enough to secure a medal as Basel headed to a fifth straight league championship at the end of the season.

The Loan Years

During his time at Chelsea, Salah struggled to find his place on the team due to the surplus of wingers, including established attackers like Eden Hazard, Willian, and Oscar being for the wide berths. He, however, scored the sixth goal in a 6-0 win for Chelsea over Arsenal on Arsène Wenger’s thousandth game in charge of the Gunners. One year after his move to Chelsea, Salah transferred on loan to the Italian club, Fiorentina, on an 18-month deal hoping to get a run of games to establish himself. The move to Fiorentina coupled with regular game-time saw Salah hit form and score nine goals in 26 appearances.

At the end of the 2014/2015 season, Fiorentina expected Salah to fulfil his contractual obligations and spend the remaining 12 months of his loan with them. But the Egyptian King had other ideas, rejecting the loan and insisting on a move to their league rivals, AS Roma. After some legal wrangling, the move to AS Roma was completed and Salah got his wish.

Operating as the primary attacking option of the club from the Eternal City, Salah took his game to the next level, scoring 15 goals in 42 appearances in his first season with the Giallorossi. The club took up the option to make his signing permanent at the end of the season for €15 million. Salah rewarded the club for the investment with multiple stellar performances across the season as Roma finished the 2016/2017 season, just four points behind Italian champions, Juventus.


Keen to secure more attacking firepower for his swashbuckling Reds, Liverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp, sanctioned a move for Mohamed Salah from Roma in a deal worth an initial £36.5m fee that could rise to £43m. From his first appearance of the season, Salah went about repaying the huge outlay, scoring in a 3-3 draw with Watford on his Premier League debut. The goals would flow in easily for the Egyptian who formed a fearsome attacking trident with fellow African Sadio Mané, and Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino.

Salah’s first season on Merseyside was an absolute success, as record after record tumbled for the forward who netted 44 times in 52 games. However, a fairytale 2017/2018 Champions League final against Real Madrid was cut short due to a shoulder injury sustained in a tussle with defender, Sergio Ramos. After leaving the pitch, Liverpool lost the game 3-1.

Kicking off where he left off in the previous season, the 2018/2019 season started in imperious form for Salah who inked a new long-term deal with Liverpool. A head-to-head clash for the league championship with Manchester City saw Liverpool end the season in second position in the league. With Salah making huge contributions, Liverpool found redemption in the Champions League. On June 1, 2019, Liverpool beat Tottenham in the Champions League final with Salah opening the score from the penalty spot in the second minute.

More success was on the horizon for Salah in the 2019/2020 season. A quick start to the season meant that even with COVID-19 disrupting the league, Liverpool still won the English Premier League in impressive form, bringing back a league title to Merseyside for the first time in 30 years with Salah scoring 19 league goals.

Salah completed domestic football with Liverpool in the 2021/2022 season after winning the FA Cup and League Cup to top up another phenomenal personal campaign. He also won both the top scorer award (jointly shared with Heung-min Son) and the top playmaker award in the league. A lull in form has made the 2022/2023 season difficult for Liverpool who are out of contention for all trophies.

But Salah has kept up his remarkable scoring form, leading Liverpool to a spectacular 7-0 drubbing of their perennial rivals, Manchester United, in March 2023. Scoring two goals and recording two assists in an exceptional performance, Salah passed Kop legend, Robbie Fowler, putting him in a good position to challenge for Liverpool’s all-time leading Premier League goalscorer.

On October 12, 2022, Salah made more history after scoring the fastest hat trick in UEFA Champions League history against Rangers, completing his treble in six minutes and twelve seconds.

National Duty

Widely seen as a symbol of national pride in Egypt, Salah has been the most popular Egyptian footballer for close to a decade. His frontline status has often meant that he has had to shoulder the weight of expectation from the North African country’s football-mad fans. He made his debut for the national team against Sierra Leone in September 2011 and has since then scored 51 goals in 89 appearances for the national team.

Salah also led the Egyptian national team to two African Cup of Nations finals in 2017 and 2021, narrowly falling at the final hurdle despite impressive personal showings.

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