Victor Osimhen of Napoli was awarded men’s African player of the year on Monday during a ceremony hosted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Osimhen, who guided Napoli to the Italian League title last season, won the accolade ahead of PSG’s Morocco right-back Achraf Hakimi and Liverpool’s Egypt winger Mohamed Salah.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” stated Osimhen.
“I am grateful to Nigerians for their support.” “I appreciate Africa for putting me on the map, encouraging me, and defending me, despite my flaws,” the 24-year-old continued.
Osimhen impressed for Napoli last season, scoring 31 goals in all competitions and helping them win the Italian League title after a 33-year wait.
Osimhen’s market value, according to Napoli, is around 200 million euros ($215 million).
Osimhen was identified by European scouts at the 2015 Under-17 World Cup in Chile and signed with German club Wolfsburg.
He was loaned to Charleroi before becoming a regular member of the Belgian club. In 2019, he joined French club Lille, where he scored 13 goals in 27 games.
Napoli signed him for 70 million euros ($75 million) a year later, but he contracted Covid-19 during a tour to Nigeria and later suffered a head injury, broken skull, and eye socket.
Because of his injuries, Osimhen was forced to wear a protective mask, earning him the moniker “masked assassin” in some quarters.
Due to his injuries, he will miss the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, and Nigeria lost in the last-16 to Tunisia.
prone to injuries
Osimhen led all scorers in qualifying for the 2024 Cup of Nations, which the Ivory Coast will host beginning January 13.
His tally includes four goals in a 10-0 thrashing of Sao Tome and Principe, a competition record winning margin for a qualifier.
Injury-prone Osimhen was sidelined for two months after injuring his hamstring in a friendly against Saudi Arabia.
The Nigerian’s frequent absences enraged Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, who responded by claiming he would not recruit any more Africans unless they agreed to forgo the Cup of Nations.
Morocco became the first African and Arab country to reach the World Cup semi-finals last year, and Moroccan keeper Yassine Bounou, his teammates and coach Walid Regragui were recognised in Marrakesh.
Bounou was awarded the year’s best custodian, Regragui the best coach, and Morocco the best national team.
Asisat Oshoala of Barcelona achieved a Nigerian double by earning African Women’s Player of the Year for the sixth time.
Her prior triumphs came in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2022, and she was born in Ikorodu, north-east of Lagos’ commercial metropolis.
After playing for Nigerian clubs Robo and Rivers Angels, she went on to play for Liverpool, Arsenal, and Dalian Quanjian before joining Barcelona on loan four years ago.
Oshoala’s goal against co-hosts Australia enabled Nigeria advance to the round of 16 of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, where they lost on penalties to England.