Victor Osimhen a tiktok from his own club mocking him may make him angry, but it will hardly make him lose faith in himself. «I never saw an iota of doubt or insecurity in him. On the contrary, I saw a boy who already knew that he was going to be a great player, his attitude from day one already reminded you of that,” he explains. Javi Martos, who was his captain at Charleroi when the Nigerian was 20 years old. “He is someone who is not afraid, he wants to succeed, he has a lot of desire, he works a lot in training and he doesn’t like to lose, when he loses he gets angry,” concludes Emmanuele Amunike, who in addition to being a former player was his coach in the under-17 team. .
Osimhen came to that team without having even played for a team as such, he was just a member of an academy in Lagos. «What they do is that they prepare the boys and then organize tournaments between academies to compete. At those ages you cannot discriminate against anyone, you have to give everyone the same opportunities,” says Amunike, who led that team to become world champions. In that tournament in ChileOsimhen scored ten goals in every game to lead his country to the title.
«We started to work with him, to correct him, he was a very tall boy but technically very good, with speed, aggressive. “We helped him understand the game better,” explains the former Barcelona player. Martos also saw these signs from the first training session in Belgium: «When he arrived he was a very young player with brutal potential, a rough diamond to be polished in several aspects. What talent was, he had it all. And he was physically a bull, as the Peruvian international remembers Christian Benaventealso a teammate at Charleroi: «The first thing that caught my attention was that for such a young boy he had a lot of strength, he was very athletic, fast, with a long stride, he covered the ball very well from his back, he was very good with his head. …».
He signed for Charleroi on a rebound after an unpromising start in Europe, at Wolfsburg. “He comes to us from heaven because the player was rejected by Bruges and Anderlecht due to a knee problem,” he explains. They design a specific preseason for him, control his workload and very soon they see that they have sung bingo: »Gradually he became a regular in the eleven and gave a brutal performance, especially in the last six months«.
He then went to Lille and later established himself at Naples as one of the best forwards in the world, but he remembers the year in Belgium in a special way. “Later he returned to Charleroi to watch games, he knows that there he was given an opportunity that others did not see clearly, the bet on the club also turned out very well both financially and in terms of sporting performance,” explains Martos.
The captain, who went through La Masia, believes that the ability to skip stages defines elite players. «I don’t like comparisons, but I lived a lot with Iniesta, and I saw Messi’s time through the youth team. They burn stages for weeks; They go from youth to c, b, or the first team in six months. Victor was a bit like that, he was an introverted player, in the preseason he was missing things but he had attitude and was improving for weeks.
The nerves are for others: «I remember that the day I made my debut for Barça in San Mamés my legs were shaking, it is the dream you fight for all your life. People who are made of Victor’s stuff, like Messi or Iniesta, if they are afraid you don’t notice it.”
Maturity is sometimes explained from biography. In the case of Osimhen there is a tough childhood behind it. «Victor had a bad time as a child, when he was ten years old his mother died, and he and his brothers had to help the family, when he left school he had to do things, he had to sell on the street. A ten-year-old child in Spain has everything; In Africa, he fights to survive and when you see what Victor has done it is a joy because you have to recognize his efforts,” says Amunike.
Osimhen is a conscientious worker. «What surprised me most was his hunger. He was an introverted boy, he only spoke English, but when it came time to work he put in maximum intensity, he played quite hard, and that already catches your attention in such a young boy, who is so involved and so focused on football. When we traveled he was always watching finishing plays from Cristiano, Messi, constantly watching football videos, just football, when training was over, if he could practice kicks and finishes, he would do it,” Martos recalls. Painstaking but not difficult. “He is a very happy guy, he likes to listen to happy music, sometimes he was in charge of the music in the locker room,” explains Benavente.
A lot of work only makes sense with talent behind it. “I have not seen such tall forwards with such quality, coordination, technique… he is a very complete player,” Amunike remarks. «I am a central defender and I scored every day, it is not normal for a player so big and so athletic to have that flexibility. You can put a ball near Victor’s head and maybe instead of going with your chest, lower it with your foot,” says Martos. “For such a young boy, he had a lot of strength, he was very athletic, fast, with a long stride, he covered the ball very well with his back and was very good with his head,” concludes Benavente.
The forward that Madrid will meet tomorrow is different from the one that played in Nigeria or Belgium. «He has polished his individual quality a lot. The first two months you gave him a pass between the lines, he came to receive and maybe his first control once was good and twice he failed; It is true that with his corpulence he managed to put his body and arms in and often keep the ball, but he had to use physical resources,” explains Martos, now retired and working at UE Prat. For centre-backs like him, Osimhen is a blessing, “When a team came that dominated and pressed high up, I knew that if I threw it to Victor, not only did he have the ability to hold it up and offload, but also that the defender would get careless and that When the ball bounced, he already put his body in the goal. From a simple clearance he knew how to extract oil.
Osimhen also improved the outcome of the plays: «In the shots in which he did not have to think much whether it was a volley, a bicycle kick or a header, it was innate, incredible, but when he had time to control and stand in a one-on-one He usually didn’t score. Victor didn’t have it, but he paid a lot of attention to learn it. The figures show that he is now part of his repertoire. Last summer there was talk of a possible exit that did not end up happening. The requirement was more than one hundred million, close to 150. That is the level.
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