Osimhen interview: Drogba, Haaland and the Premier League (2023)

Victor Osimhen peers into the screen in front of him before giving a thumbs-up and a cheery wave.

It is well into the evening in Lagos but happily for Sportsmail, the Nigerian superstar has been easier to pin down than he is for the unlucky centre-backs tasked with stopping him every week.

A shining light of the European game this season, the Napoli forward is an idol in his native Nigeria and is expected to be one of the hottest properties of the summer transfer market after his stunning performances took his club to the brink of their first league title since the days of Diego Maradona.


The 24-year-old is now valued at a minimum £150million and said recently it was his 'dream' to play in the Premier League.

Osimhen is happy in Italy but with Manchester United and Chelsea among those who may be looking for a specialist centre-forward at the end of the season, he will be top of many lists.

Victor Osimhen has been in sensational form as he powers Napoli towards the Serie A title

The striker is a darling of the Napoli fans with their long 33-year wait for the title almost over

As he settles down in his hotel room for his first major interview with a UK media outlet, Osimhen - a doubt for Napoli's Champions League quarter-final first leg against AC Milan - delivers a fascinating account of his journey to becoming one of the best strikers in the world.

Growing up in difficult circumstances in the Lagos suburbs, Osimhen sold oranges and bottled water on the city's streets to make ends meet, and saw his local football pitches shut down.

(Video) Victor Osimhen says it's his dream to play in the Premier League

He moved to German club Wolfsburg aged 17 and found the separation from friends and family 'traumatising'.

After gradual improvement at Charleroi in Belgium and French club Lille, Osimhen's career has taken off in Italy, where he has 25 goals in 29 games in all competitions this season.

With Napoli so close to glory, Osimhen is now a little more cautious now when asked about English football but his inspiration is one of the icons of the Premier League era – Didier Drogba.

Mention the former Chelsea striker's name and Osimhen becomes a pure fan again.

'I have always supported Drogba and I have huge love and admiration for him,' he gushes.

'I remember when he scored the equaliser in the 2012 Champions League Final, an amazing header, and the way I celebrated was as though I had scored the goal. My friends knew I was obsessed with Drogba.

Osimhen's goals have also pushed Napoli into the last eight of the Champions League

Osimhen heads home his second and Napoli's third in their 4-0 win away at Torino in March

'When I scored 10 goals and won the Golden Boot at the Under-17 World Cup in 2015, one of the Nigeria staff showed me a tweet from Drogba. It said 'Congratulations Victor. I wish you all the best for the future.'

'I was shocked. I never believed someone like Didier Drogba would tweet those words to a young aspiring striker. It gave me a whole new motivation to succeed.

Osimhen recalls fondly the impact his idol Didier Drogba made when Chelsea won the 2012 Champions League final

(Video) Super Eagles: Chelsea legend Didier Drogba with high praise for Victor Osimhen

'Trust me, he has been so helpful. One morning last year I woke up and checked my Instagram, and found messages to me from him, complimenting me, but saying I still had a long way to go. It's amazing to be in contact with him.

'I try to model my game on his and there are a lot of things I can take from his game and add to my own, so there is nothing better for a young player.

'He's a hero in his country, he's played to the highest level, won a lot and made African youngsters dream. He's a busy man but whenever he sees my messages on Instagram he replies immediately. It's a great feeling.'

Doubtless Osimhen now has the same status among Africa's young forwards. And if not every Premier League follower is familiar with his work, they soon will be.

He may not be quite as prolific as Erling Haaland - who is? - but Osimhen is arguably a more complete No 9. He is technically outstanding, powerful in the air, quick, athletic and intelligent.

Wearing a protective mask on the pitch after breaking his cheekbone and eye socket in November 2021, the 24-year-old even looks like a superhero.

But for the duration of our interview, he is far more like Clark Kent, with his unaffected, easy manner and engaging conversation.

The idea of Osimhen v Haaland duel for the Premier League Golden Boot is thrilling yet Osimhen reveals that the pair already share great mutual respect.

He is on good terms with Man City striker Erling Haaland, who he could be in direct competition with in the Premier League next season

'I play with Leo Ostigard at Napoli, who is very good friends with Haaland and plays for Norway with him,' Osimhen explains.

'I am a fan of the Bundesliga so I've followed him for a while and every weekend he seems to score two, three, four goals.

'Ostigard spoke to me a lot about him, how hard he trained, then one day he said: 'If you want, I can bring you his shirt.' I said: 'Of course, bro.'

'So he spoke to Haaland, who also asked for my shirt, so we swapped them through Ostigard. He is one of the best of his generation so to be compared with him – and considered one of the best strikers in the world – only inspires me to do more.

'I can score four goals in a game, I can provide more assists, I can do many more things as I have the quality to execute them. I need to work even harder and then at the end of my career I can hopefully look back and say yes, I did some wonderful things.

Osimhen has become something of a masked raider after breaking his cheekbone in 2021

(Video) Victor Osimhen opens up to change inspired by Erling Haaland and Chelsea

Naples is preparing to party when they win the Scudetto - there are cardboard cut-outs of Osimhen and other players on the beach in Bacoli

Modern day Napoli heroes like Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia can be found on the streets alongside the greatest of them all, Diego Maradona

'Everyone watches the EPL (Premier League), it is really competitive, but Serie A is also one of the strongest leagues. When Cristiano Ronaldo played there, he said the same thing. I am really happy to be there.

'If we can win the title for Napoli, the city will never be the same again. When you go to the city, the fans have tears in their eyes. They haven't won the league since Maradona's time (1990) and they are so close to realising this dream.

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(Video) Haaland vs. Osimhen? 👀 Napoli Star Insists Anything Is Possible As Italian Side Makes UCL History

'Sometimes they come to the players' houses to show their love, as late as 2am. Naples bleeds for football and I have imagined many times how the city will explode if we can win the Scudetto (league title). We have chances to go far in the Champions League, too.'

Osimhen's rise is all the more impressive considering the adversity he has experienced. His was not the smooth path of the golden prospect who is taken into the academy of a top club in his early years and progresses into the first team.

There have been sacrifices throughout his story which make today's success all the sweeter, as he rubs shoulders with Nigerian greats like Jay Jay Okocha, Kanu, Rashidi Yekini and Emmanuel Amunike.

The forward has scored 15 goals in 24 international outings for his country Nigeria

Osimhen's style of play is unselfish yet he would not be human if he were not attracted by personal goals, with the African Footballer of the Year award – won by Drogba in 2006 and 2009 – particularly prominent in his thinking.

'I started playing football at seven or eight but I was not really into it as I was still going with my sisters to sell oranges,' he recalls. 'I knew I was good at it but then at a certain point I realised I had to take it seriously.

'They closed down the pitch at my primary school and we had a lot of talented players, but most of them went to get jobs. After that I had to walk for an hour to train at a secondary school outside my community.

'At the same time I was selling bottled water in the Lagos traffic, trying to help my family however I could. I had trials for the Nigeria Under-17 side, meaning a five-hour journey to (capital city) Abuja.

'Initially I didn't make the grade and when I found out, I had tears in my eyes. But I kept pushing and eventually I was chosen. The Under-17 World Cup was a turning point for me.

Osimhen could be on the radar of Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag in the summer window

'I am not going to lie. It would be my dream to be African Footballer of the Year. I was at the ceremony in 2015, when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang won the award. As an African you dream of this prize and maybe I can win.

(Video) VICTOR OSIMHEN Napoli's £150m striker on his love for Drogba

'My first experience of European football, at Wolfsburg, was difficult. But it paved the way for what I have done since. I know that if I change countries, I will adapt quickly.

'I am not the type of player who folds under pressure and I try to stay calm in every situation. The season is going really well. I have putting up some amazing numbers and I am proud of what I have achieved – but I am not done yet.'

FAQs

How many golden boots does Drogba have? ›

Drogba also won the Golden Boot in 2007 and becomes the fifth player to win the award twice in the Premier League era.

How many Premier League goals did Drogba scored for Chelsea? ›

Didier Drogba scored 104 Premier League goals in 254 appearances across two separate spells at Chelsea.

How many red cards did Drogba get? ›

Didier Drogba: Three red cards, a police caution and televised f-word rants - Chelsea striker tops the bad-boy league table.

How many years did Drogba spend in Chelsea? ›

Didier Drogba
Personal information
2002–2003Guingamp(20)
2003–2004Marseille(19)
2004–2012Chelsea(100)
2012–2013Shanghai Shenhua(8)
25 more rows

Who is the highest player with golden boots? ›

Since 1997, it has been calculated using a weighting in favour of the highest ranked leagues. Originally presented by L'Équipe magazine, it has been awarded by the European Sports Media since the 1996–97 season. Lionel Messi has won the award six times, the most out of every winner, all while playing for Barcelona.

Who has the most golden boots in history? ›

Thierry Henry has won the most Golden Boot awards with four. The leading goalscorer in a given Premier League season.

How many career goals does Erling Haaland have? ›

Haaland goals in total by club + country
TeamGamesGoals
Molde5020
Bryne160
Norway2321
Total245203
3 more rows

How many hat tricks does Drogba have? ›

Didier Drogba

Drogba ended his reign in England with three Premier League hat-tricks which the Ivorian recorded for Chelsea.

Who has the most prem red cards ever? ›

Adjust Filters
RankPlayerClub
1.CasemiroManchester United
2.Tyler AdamsLeeds United
2.Shandon BaptisteBrentford
2.Nélson SemedoWolverhampton Wanderers
16 more rows

Who has the most prem red cards? ›

#1 Duncan Ferguson - 8 red cards

Everton hardman Duncan Ferguson has an unrivaled disciplinary record in the Premier League. Big Dunc was one of the most frightening players to go up against in Premier League history. Worse yet, his notorious behavior was not limited to his time in the Premier League.

Who has the most legendary red cards in football? ›

Here are the 10 most infamous red cards in football history.
  1. David Beckham (World Cup 1998) ...
  2. Zinedine Zidane (World Cup 2006) ...
  3. Laurent Blanc (World Cup 1998) ...
  4. Wayne Rooney (World Cup 2006) ...
  5. Voller & Rijkaard (World Cup 1990) ...
  6. Jens Lehmann (2006 Champions League Final) ...
  7. Josip Simunic (World Cup 2006) ...
  8. Kaka (World Cup 2010)

How many Golden Boot did Drogba won in Chelsea? ›

Chelsea Striker Didier Drogba Wins Premier League Golden Boot
NameGoalsGames (sub)
Didier Drogba2931 (1)
Wayne Rooney2632 (0)
Darren Bent2438 (0)
Carlos Tevez2332 (3)
11 more rows
May 9, 2010

What was Drogba salary at Chelsea? ›

What was Drogbas best season? ›

2009-10. Appearances: 44 Goals 37 Trophies won: Premier League, FA Cup Arguably Drogba's finest season at Chelsea came during a campaign where the Blues secured their first league and cup double.

Has a midfielder ever won the Golden Boot? ›

The Portuguese midfielder is only behind Mohamed Salah in the Golden Boot rankings, with the Liverpool winger having scored 17 goals. If Bruno can outscore Salah in the remaining games this season, he will become the first-ever midfielder to win a Golden Boot in Premier League history.

Who has more golden ball Messi or Ronaldo? ›

Messi has won the men's Ballon d'Or award a record seven times, Cristiano Ronaldo has won the award five times.

Who got golden boots in FIFA? ›

France's Kylian Mbappe is the reigning Golden Boot holder, having netted eight goals in seven matches at Qatar 2022 - one more than Lionel Messi. No player in football history has ever won the Golden Boot twice.

Is Golden Boot real gold? ›

The unique shoe-shaped trophy is made of a brass alloy that is electroplated with gold.

Who is the Golden Boot king? ›

Cristiano Ronaldo also holds the record for most goals in international football among men. The Golden Boot race at Qatar 2022 started with Ecuador's Enner Valencia, who scored twice in the curtain-raiser against hosts Qatar.

Who is better Messi or Ronaldo? ›

Ronaldo has scored more goals and won two 'Best FIFA Men's Player' awards, but Messi has won more Ballon d'Or awards (7).

Who is better between Mbappe and Haaland? ›

"Mbappe is the better player. Haaland is going to score more goals, but Mbappe is the better player, the more beautiful player."

Who has the most career goals between Haaland and Mbappe? ›

Kylian Mbappe vs Erling Haaland: International goals and games
MbappeStatHaaland
68Games23
38Goals21

How rich is Halland? ›

Haaland's meteoric rise has come quickly and with that, so too have the finances surrounding the new City superstar. The former Borussia Dortmund forward's net worth currently stands at £9 million ($12 million), per GOAL.

What is Chelsea biggest loss? ›

What is Chelsea's biggest ever away defeat in history? Chelsea's biggest away defeat is by six goals. It's happened three times in history - an 8-1 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers during the 1953/1954 season, and 7-0 defeats to Leeds United (1967/68) and Nottingham Forest (1990/91).

Who is PSG all time top scorer? ›

Kylian Mbappé becomes Paris Saint-Germain's all-time top scorer in Ligue 1 | CNN.

Who is Man City all time top scorer? ›

Sergio Aguero

Has anyone scored 3 hat-tricks in a row? ›

The footballing headlines in November 1946 belonged solely to one man as Liverpool inside forward Jack Balmer earned himself a place in the history books with a remarkable and unprecedented goalscoring achievement.

Has anyone scored 2 hat-tricks? ›

Only six players – Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright, Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney, Erling Haaland and Harry Kane (twice) – have scored hat-tricks in two consecutive league games, while Thierry Henry achieved it in consecutive appearances a month apart.

Who has the fastest hat-trick in football history? ›

Fastest hat-trick in football history. James Hayter of Bournemouth set the record for the fastest hat trick in Football League history (2 minutes and 22 seconds) in February of 2004, while Sadio Mané of Southampton set the record for the fastest hat trick in Premier League history against Aston Villa on May 16, 2015.

Who is the king of red cards in football? ›

Talking about the players who have received the most red cards in football, former Colombia international Gerardo Bedoya sits at the top of the pile. Bedoya has received a staggering 46 red cards throughout his career.

Which striker has the most red cards? ›

1. Gerardo Bedoya – 46. Even Ramos' red-mist episodes pale in comparison to Gerardo Bedeoya, the former Colombia international who became football's king of cards. Nicknamed 'the beast', it was a moniker the midfielder lived up to as he scythed down opponents and collected cards at a record rate.

Which team has lost the most Premier League games? ›

Defeats
  • Most defeats in total: 416, Everton.
  • Most defeats in a season: 29. ...
  • Most home defeats in a season: 15, Watford (2021–22)
  • Most away defeats in a season: 17, Burnley (2009–10)
  • Fewest defeats in a season: 0, Arsenal (2003–04)
  • Fewest home defeats in a season: 0. ...
  • Fewest away defeats in a season: 0.

Who has more red cards than Ramos? ›

The sending off was the 20th of Ramos' La Liga career, and means he is now the most red-carded player in the history of Europe's top five leagues. The record was previously held by Cyril Rool, who amassed 19 red cards in Ligue 1.

How many red cards did Ronaldo get? ›

Ronaldo's red card record is much more damning than that of the Argentine, whose contentious dismissal against La Roja was just his second red card in his senior career.
...
Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Red cards head-to-head.
PlayerNumber of red cardsStraight red cards
Cristiano Ronaldo117
1 more row

How many red cards does Messi have? ›

How many red cards has Lionel Messi received? Messi has been red-carded three times in his career, twice with Argentina and once with FC Barcelona. For a player who actually gets kicked an awful lot, Messi has had to endure all sorts of brutality on the pitch. However, the three times he was red-carded made world news.

Who has the least red cards? ›

Gary Lineker

Not only was Lineker never sent off, but he was never even shown a yellow card. That goes for club and country, by the way - across more than 500 games in total.

Has a team ever won with a red card? ›

The Impact of Red Cards

Only 23% of games were won and 18% of games were drawn when that team received a red card. Interestingly, the average time a red card was issued during a game was at 59 minutes – which is fairly late on.

Has a team ever got 3 red cards? ›

Yes. In 'The Battle of Aflitos' Grêmio (4 players sent off) beat Náutico (1 player sent off). A film was made about the game. According to the rules of FIFA four red card for a team results into disqualification of that team.

Did Drogba get Golden Boot? ›

Didier Drogba – 2

Widely known as one of the best big game players in the history of football, Drogba has scored 10 goals in 11 finals throughout his career. Didier first won the PL Golden Boot in 2007. The Ivorian then proceeded to win it again in 2010 in some style.

Did Drogba win Golden Boot with Chelsea? ›

Carlos Tevez meanwhile hit 23 goals in 36 appearances.
...
Chelsea Striker Didier Drogba Wins Premier League Golden Boot.
NameDidier Drogba
Goals29
Games (sub)31 (1)
Goal:Game Ratio0.90
14 more columns
May 10, 2010

How many African players have won the Golden Boot? ›

Three African Players Have Won the 2019 Premier League Golden Boot.

Why Rooney never won a Golden Boot? ›

One of the reasons Wayne doesn't hold a single Golden Boot may be due to the amount of injuries he has sustained during the course of his career. Here are all the major injuries that Rooney has had ever since he began his career in English football: 2004/05: Fractured Left Metatarsal (6 weeks)

Can Golden Boot be shared? ›

The first instance the Golden Boot was shared among players was in the 1962 edition held in Chile. Six players – Hungary's Florian Albert, Soviet Union's Valentin Ivanov, Brazil's Garrincha and Vava, Yugoslavia's Drazan Jerkovic and the host nation's Leonel Sanchez – finished as joint top-scorers with four goals each.

Who is the best player between Rooney and Drogba? ›

Others pointed to statistics, which show that Rooney scored 208 Premier League goals to Drogba's 104. Rooney played in 491 matches compared to Drogba's 254, giving them an almost identical rate of goals-per-game (0.42 and 0.41 respectively).

Has Rooney ever won a Golden Boot? ›

Wayne Rooney was officially commemorated as England's all-time leading goal-scorer - receiving a golden boot from the man whose record he overtook Sir Bobby Charlton.

How many Golden Boots has Mbappe won? ›

He was awarded the Golden Boy in 2017 and the Globe Soccer Best Player of the Year in 2021. Mbappé has won Ligue 1 Player of the Year three times, and has finished as the Ligue 1 top scorer for four seasons; in the 2021–22 season, he became the first player to finish as both Ligue 1 top scorer and top assist provider.

Who has more golden boots Messi or Ronaldo? ›

The individual battle between Ronaldo and Messi has been the defining feature of modern football for the past decade and more.
...
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi: Individual awards.
Cristiano RonaldoAwardLionel Messi
5Ballon d'Or7
2The Best FIFA Men's Player1
4European Golden Shoe6
4 more rows
Apr 8, 2023

How many Golden Boots has Lewandowski won? ›

Lewandowski is one of just 12 players to have won the Golden Shoe twice. If he manages to win it a third time, he would be one of just two, as Messi is the only other person to win it more than twice - six times Messi's won it, to be exact.

Who is Africa best player of all time? ›

Top 10 Greatest African Players of all time
  1. SAMUEL ETO'O. No doubt about our number one.
  2. GEORGE WEAH (LIBERIA) ...
  3. DIDIER DROGBA (IVORY COAST) ...
  4. ROGER MILLA (CAMEROON) ...
  5. YAYA TOURE (IVORY COAST) ...
  6. NWANKWO KANU (NIGERIA) ...
  7. JAY-JAY OKOCHA (NIGERIA) ...
  8. ESSAM EL-HADARY (EGYPT) ...

What happens if 2 players tie for Golden Boot? ›

If, after the assists are counted, players are still tied, then the Golden boot is decided by minutes played in the tournament - the player with fewer minutes is ranked first, with their minutes-to-goal and -assist ratio better.

Who is the most successful African player of all time? ›

Samuel Eto'o, Yaya Toure And Didier Drogba Are Africa's Top Three Decorated Players. Cameroons Samuel Eto'o, and Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré are Africa's top three decorated African players with a total of 53 titles amongst them.

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