€81m Napoli deal: How Lagos hawker became Africa’s costliest footballer

By lapapo • 4 days ago • 4088 views • 790 comments

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Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen ’s humble beginnings from Olusosun , the Lagos area famed for its dumpsite , to the ambience of one of Europe ’s oldest cities , Naples , famed for its wealth of historical monuments , is truly one of football’ s Cinderella tales, reports ’ TOSIN OLUWALOWO

On Friday , Napoli officially announced the signing of Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen from Ligue 1 side Lille on a five- year deal worth € 81 million plus add- ons .

Aside from the mega- money move making Osimhen the most expensive African footballer ever , the forward , according to close sources, will earn a whopping € 4 . 5 million annually – the highest - ever by a Nigerian footballer – as salary at the Italian giants.

The 21 -year - old , now regarded as one of the hottest youngsters in global football – after a phenomenal rise in two seasons at modest Belgian side Charleroi and Lille – never had the best of beginnings while growing up .

Living in one of the many makeshift houses around the Olusosun dumpsite in Lagos, Osimhen and his family had a hellish time trying to cope with the environmental and health hazards posed by the dumpsite, noted for its emission of thick smokes, foul smell, and routine fire outbreaks .

The 100- acre Olusosun landfill , which receives up to 10, 000 tons of rubbish each day , is regarded as one of the largest dumpsites in Africa . And it’ s also a hideout for criminals , who hide dangerous weapons and hard drugs inside the massive dumpsite .

Living under these terrible conditions posed enough headache for the footballer’ s family , but at just six , Osimhen , last child among seven siblings , lost his mother, while his father lost his job , leaving him and his siblings in the dark world of uncertainty.

Insecurity , poverty , and the perennial fear of eviction by the Lagos State Government stared his family in the face .

The setback, however, didn ’t deter the teenager, who made lemonade from the lemons life threw at him : he opted to hawk sachet water, popularly known as ‘ pure water,’ on the streets of Lagos.

“I come from a place where so many dreams have died but I ’m the kind of person who doesn ’t give up irrespective of my situation. So , I was forced to go out and get myself a life ,” Osimhen said .

“In Lagos , they sell water ( bottle or sachet ) which is the easiest , but the hardest because you have to run and give somebody the water and collect money .”

Running on the ever -busy Lagos roads chasing passengers was the perfect training for Osimhen , who turns 22 in December , on the way to stardom. And he combined this with street football .

But while hawking put food on the family ’s table, street football didn’t , then.

The skinny up - and- coming footballer eventually caught the attention of the country ’ s U - 17 coaches and scouts, who selected him for the 2015 U -17 World Cup in Chile , but not without a story 

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