Napoli’s Victor Osimhen has learned a hard lesson after ill-advised Nigeria tripJanuary 11, 2021
Napoli’s Victor Osimhen has learned a hard lesson after ill-advised Nigeria trip
The reckless actions which led to Napoli striker Victor Osimhen testing positive for COVID-19 after a trip to Nigeria will serve as a steep learning curve.
And that lesson, as many sportspeople have discovered in the past few months, is that attending a party, especially sans mask, during a pandemic is likely to end up on video and get you into triuble.
Osimhen was moved to offer a very strong apology to the club and his fans last week for testing positive for coronavirus after a visit to Nigeria over the festive season.
A video subsequently emerged showing him at what appeared to be a party, spraying money on attendees. It was not a good look for the forward, and the club were reportedly looking at fining him for the breach.
Osimhen’s international coach Gernot Rohr, and close adviser Osita Okolo, told ESPN that what happened was a genuine error which the player deeply regrets.
“You know Victor, he is young, he is very humble,” Rohr told ESPN.
“This was for him a mistake, but he will learn and he will be strong after.”
Okolo said it was all an unfortunate series of circumstances: “He had no plans to attend a party and did not go out of his way to do so.
“He was actually home sleeping when some members of his family decided to throw a surprise party for him.
“They woke him up and got him to come downstairs and out of respect for everyone, he came down, but he spent less tan 10 minutes before going back to his room.
“It is just unfortunate that things turned out the way they did because all he wanted to do was come home and spend time with his family and then go back and do his best for his club.”
Osimhen himself was quick to issue an apology: “I am so sorry for what happened, I was wrong to go to Nigeria in this moment, even if I have many loved ones over there, including my brothers.
“I was wrong to take part in the party. I didn’t understand the severity of what I was doing. I apologise to the club, the coach, the team and the fans.”
He also enjoyed the support of his manager Genarro Gattuso, who told the club website: “He knows he’s made a mistake and he’s apologised.”
Rohr says Gattusso’s handling of the situation is a reflection of both the player’s previous spotless behaviour the respect that the coach has for his record signing.
He said: “When you have a good player, who is very humble and he makes a mistake, you try to help him. Also the coach respects him, that is why he will speak to him to help him.”
It is the first big misstep in the career of the young Nigerian, who has enjoyed a largely trouble-free career since emerging as a star with Nigeria at the under 17 World Cup in 2015.
His goalscoring and potential so impressed Rohr when he took over as Nigeria coach in 2016 that he immediately called the youngster up for the Nigeria men’s senior team and kept him on the squad even during his lean years in Belgium, and before his move to France.
With Odion Ighalo the first choice striker, Osimhen was consigned to watch and learn from the bench.
He got an opportunity during the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019, where Nigeria finished third behind Algeria and Senegal, but came into his own after Ighalo’s international retirement at the conclusion of the tournament.
Since taking over as lead striker, Osimhen has become of the more deadly strikers on the continent in Afcon qualifying, where he has scored four goals in four qualifying games.
Osimhen has scored two goals in six Series A games since joining from French club Lille OSC in mid-2020, and is missing the first four games of the year while in isolation.
He also missed a chunk of action with a shoulder injury picked up on international duty in November.