Victor Osimhen has been named the 2023 African Footballer of the Year, cementing his position as one of the top players in the world.
The accolade on Monday finished off a stellar year for the Super Eagles striker, whose historic performance in the royal Moroccan city of Marakesh ended Nigeria’s 24-year wait for Africa’s top individual honor. The legendary Kanu Nwankwo was the last Nigerian to receive the award, in 1999.
The prize is a recognition of Osimhen’s exploits for his Napoli club side and the national team where he is a key member. He spearheaded the Italian team’s unprecedented Serie A title run, scoring 26 goals in the league to become the first African to win the Pichichi (top scorer) award. His contribution broke George Weah’s record as the highest-scoring player from the continent in the Italian top flight.
Napoli last won the Scudetto 33 years ago during the legendary Diego Maradona’s era. For the 2022/23 campaign, the former Lille striker’s impeccable form saw him included in the Serie A Team of the Year as he also clinched the Best Striker prize.
Osimhen’s ranking in the 2023 Ballon d’Or was a testament to his contributions to the Serie A team’s epochal showing. He was ninth, becoming the highest-ranked African for the year and the most-ranked Nigerian in the history of the award.
Earlier in the month, the Nigerian was crowned as Italian footballers’ association player of the Year, the first African to win the AIC award.
Though Nigeria agonizingly missed out on the 2022 World Cup, losing the ticket to perennial rivals Ghana, Osimhen’s contributions to the Super Eagles were staggering in the year under review. He was the top scorer in the qualification race for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with 10 goals.
Although injuries have hampered his outing for Napoli this season – with just six goals in 10 games for Walter Mazzari’s men – Monday’s award is the crowning point of a hugely successful year for the Nigerian marksman.