The 23-year-old Super Eagle discusses his return from injury at the Partenopei and compares his stints in France and Belgium
Nigeria international Victor Osimhen has attributed his run of form with Napoli to his determination to prove doubters wrong.
The 23-year-old Super Eagle is having a good season in Serie A where he has so far managed 12 goals from 23 appearances. However, his goalscoring form was derailed in November when he picked up an injury and needed surgery to repair his face.
It was the injury that eventually ruled him out of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon where Nigeria failed to get past the Round of 16 after being eliminated by Tunisia. He, however, returned to action for Napoli in January while wearing a protective mask.
“From the moment I had my surgery, I read some people saying ‘The season is over for him’,” Osimhen said as quoted by BBC Sport Africa. “‘When he comes back, he wouldn’t go head-to-head with a defender’. ‘Even with a mask, he cannot nod the ball’ and stuff like that.
“Most of all those doubts are actually a motivation to me. Because I know myself and I know the kind of heart that I’ve got. To be able to be back and keep the goals coming is a big thing for me.
“I appreciate people that have worked so hard with me to make sure I’m okay even when I had the surgery and everything. They probably doubted me returning to my best because of the impact the facial incident could’ve had on my mental health.”
Osimhen, whose display is attracting top European clubs among them Manchester United, Arsenal, and Newcastle United, insists he has proven people wrong.
“I must thank all those who stood by me,” Osimhen continued. “I appreciate the love.
“Of course, I want to keep on going and kudos to my teammates – they’ve been supportive to me, on and off the pitch. And I think this is the most important thing that any footballer can ask for.”
Having played in French and Belgian leagues before moving to Napoli, Osimhen maintains that the Italian top-flight remains the toughest.
“It’s really physical, just like what we’ve been hearing before I even became a professional footballer,” Osimhen continued. “Tactically, they’re really sound. The defenders are strong and disciplined too.
“But a player [like me] never backs down no matter the circumstances, no matter the scoreline, no matter the team I play. I want to go so hard; I want to go so extreme to get my goals to try to help the team.
“I believe without these early setbacks, I can actually do more. And I challenge myself into doing more than I have done in the previous seasons. Of course, I did it in Belgium. I did it in Lille. Of course, I will always do it anywhere I go.”
A home match against Sassuolo on Saturday is Osimhen and Napoli’s next Serie A fixture, who have 67 points and are in the third spot. Last season for Napoli, Osimhen made 24 Serie A appearances, scored 10 goals, and provided three assists.