The young Nigerian striker had an encounter with one of the most successful coaches in football that he will never forget
There were many surreal moments in Victor Osimhen‘s life last season, including becoming a cult hero in Naples after leading them to their first Serie A title in 33 years was one of them.
But an encounter on the side of the pitch during a game against AS Roma, where he scored one of the season’s best goals, left him blushing.
Osimhen had come off a barrage of ankle attacks from the defensive trio of Chris Smalling, Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibanez before scoring his wonder striker, an instinctive chesting and half-volley before the Roma defenders could react. It was a goal that left everyone on their feet in disbelief inside the Diego Maradona Stadium and across the world.
And when he got a knock that left him on the sidelines, Roma coach Mourinho approached him to share a few words.
I was in that game in January and asked Mourinho what he told Osimhen at the press conference and what he thought of his abilities compared to Didier Drogba, Osimhen’s hero.
“I told him, ‘You scored an amazing goal, but you didn’t need to dive all the time. That’s what I told him. That’s what I think,” Mourinho told me back in January.
At the end of the season, I got an opportunity to put the same question to Victor, and it is an encounter he cherishes.
“After somebody stepped on my wrist and it got peeled, (Mourinho) came to me and he said, ‘Good goal, but don’t do that. Don’t try to dive. Keep going like this; you’re on the right path.’ I told him that I don’t make simulations, I was pushed, and I showed him my hand, and he said, ‘Go on’,” Osimhen told Soccernet.ng.
It was an encounter that held much more for the 24-year-old Capocannoniere.
“To hear this kind of compliment from Mourinho, right in the middle of the game, for me, it’s an amazing feeling. Trust me; it’s an amazing feeling.
“Coming from someone this kind of a man, the best in the world if I’m not mistaken, for me, it’s just the fuel that I really need to continue,” Osimhen said.
Mourinho went further by comparing Osimhen with Drogba that January evening.
“And if you want me to compare him with Drogba, I would say the level is there, but Drogba would never dive. If Victor can change that in his game, he is okay. If only I am at a club with a lot of money, I’ll buy him.”
For Osimhen, that is a moment to remember forever.
“I think every aspiring striker, mostly when you’re young, if you have the opportunity to play under Mourinho, I think it’s a huge honour because he has shaped a lot of world-class strikers,” Osimhen responded.
“Didier Drogba played under him, and we know the kind of beast he actually turned him into. And he delivered for him. So, for me, it’s a great privilege that Mourinho spoke to me in the middle of the game and gave me this compliment. It’s a huge one for me.”
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Osimhen will hope to continue from where he left off when the 2023-24 season resumes. Another encounter with Mourinho is something we surely look forward to seeing.
The Nigerian is the subject of summer speculations about his future with leading clubs like Manchester United and PSG chasing him but Napoli’s 150 million euros valuation has kept them at bay.