Nigeria has a record of good players who were great ambassadors of Africa. Over time, many players have exhibited talents that the world appreciated but in the 90s, the country had a cream of such players. We recall that at the time, the Eagles of the 90s were tagged as golden generation.
The ‘golden boys’ won the AFCON title first time outside Nigeria in 1994, qualified for the World Cup same year for the first time, won the Olympic football event gold at Atlanta 1996 and also qualified for the France 98 World Cup. Sunday Oliseh, Austin Okocha, Peter Rufai, Rasidi Yekini, Samson Siasia, Mutiu Adepoju, Emmanuel Amuneke, Celestine Babayaro, Nwankwo Kanu, Daniel Amokachi, Victor Ikpeba, Stephen Keshi, Uche Okechukwu, Austin Eguavoen, Mobi Oparaku, Finidi George, Garba Lawal and Tijani Babandida are some of the players that made Nigerians proud with good results.
At the time, these players serve as motivation to one another with their exploits in their various clubs abroad. This time, we are happy that some players are also working hard, showing so much promise, giving fans of the game hope that they could replicate the feat achieved by the golden generation players. We clearly rate Eagles’ top striker, Victor Osimhen, as a stand-out lad among those in good form. In the colours of Lille FC of France, the 21-year-old emerged the top striker of the team after he registered 18 goals with six assists last season.
He also won the African best player award for the season in France. Osimhen is the most ‘wanted’ Super Eagles player based on his current form and ratings. Lille placed a whopping $60 million on the player and Serie A side Napoli tabled the money. Management of Napoli and Lille agreed on the move but a confident Osimhen is targeting a move to the English Premier League. While Manchester United and Arsenal were struggling over who gets him, EPL champions Liverpool hijacked the deal and they are ready to even more than Napoli’s $60 million to land Osimhen.
Every follower of the beautiful round leather game should be proud that Osimhen is so hot to command such price tag in Europe with top clubs falling over one another for his signature. We are aware that Barcelona and Real Madrid are some of the other top teams said to be interested in the Nigerian forward, who is certain to break the transfer record of Nigerian players abroad. Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester, Moses Simon of Nantes and Samuel Chukwueze of Villareal are other top Eagles stars currently making waves but they need to further improve to boost their respective careers. We charge these players and other budding Eagles stars to emulate Osimhen in their respective clubs and come out as the best. We have the talents to rule the game in the world if they are wellnurtured towards greatness.
On current form and with the transfer news updates, Osimhen is a pride of Nigeria. We charge him to remain focused, humble to get much better. We also believe with a good agent, he is good enough to feature for a big team now to boost chances of being in the running for the African best player award in the nearest future. Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah, both of Liverpool are still favourites after helping the Reds to clinch their first EPL title in 30 years.
CAF has cancelled the 2020 edition because of COVID -19 effects. However, Osimhen’s stock is on the rise. His former coach in the national U-17 team, Amuneke, said the sky was the limit for the striker. Amuneke said: “Victor (Osimhen) is extremely talented, focused and he is a fighter who is always hungry for good results.
I am not surprised about his progress and we are yet to see his best.” We expect Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, and top shots in the Nigeria Football Federation to be in touch with this player to show him love and encourage him to do better for his team and Nigeria. Osimhen also needs a sound psychologist to work on his temperament and also prepare him for the future challenges as a big player he is gradually turning out to be in world football. We recall that Kelechi Iheanacho moved from Manchester City to Leicester City for a transfer fee of £25 million, Odion Ighalo moved from Watford to Changchun Yatai for £20 million, Ahmed Musa, from CSKA Moscow to Leicester City for £17 million while John Obi Mikel, from Lyn Oslo joined Chelsea for a fee of £16 million.
Wilfred Ndidi moved from Racing Genk to Leicester City for a fee of £15 million but last season, Alex Iwobi erased the record books with a £40 million move from Arsenal to Everton. We expect a new record from Osimhen just as we expect more of the top players in the senior national team to be in the top ratings of their respective teams. Simon was voted the best player in Nantes, same feat Osimhen achieved in Lille. If Eagles are not too focused on money but on their career prospects, more players will get better in their teams next season.