Lille Metropole of France striker, Victor Osimhen has capped a stunning debut season with The Mastiffs by edging past his Nigerian compatriot, Moses Simon of FC Nantes and six other players to win the prestigious award for best African player in the French Ligue 1, megasportsarena.com reports.
A prodigious debut season laced with 15 goals in Ligue 1 earned Osimhen to vote of several journalists and other panelists for him to emerge winner of the 2020 Marc-Vivien Foe prize ahead of Simon, Saint-Etienne’s Denis Bouanga, Montpellier’s Andy Delort, AS Monaco’s Islam Slimani as well as the Stade Rennes trio of Mbaye Niang, Hamari Traore and Edouard Mendy.
He becomes the latest Nigerian to go home with the lofty prize, after Vincent Enyeama won it in 2014 while, incidentally, also playing as then number one goalkeeper with Lille, and Osimhen is the club’s overall fifth player to get the gong after Gervinho (2010, 2011), Sofiane Boufal (2016) and the youngster the rave of the moment replaced last summer, Nicolas Pépé (2019).
The vote is in recognition of Osimhen’s feat of 13 goals and four assists in 27 games since the 21-year-old Chile 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup gold medalist and highest goals scorer arrived from Sporting Charleroi of Belgium, following a loan deal from VfL Wolfsburg of Germany, where he failed to get into their main team in four years but he is now a key player at Lille.
Becoming a high-profile member of Christophe Galtier’s squad has opened Osimhen up for widespread and repeated transfer speculation, which is bound to get hotter now that he has been handed Ligue 1’s best African player trophy that has since 2011 been named after Marc-Vivien Foé, a Cameroonian player who died during a FIFA Confederation Cup game against Colombia at Gerland Stadium in Lyon, France on June 26 2003.
While Algeria’s Islam Slimani from Monaco and Morocco’s Yunis Abdelhamid of Rennes placed second and third respectively, Osimhen was chosen by a jury of sport journalists specializing in the French league and African football in general.
He was included in a list of 11 players drafted by analysts at RFI and France 24, who took note of highlights the recently cancelled season, which had to be stopped on March 13 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the ultimate prize went to Osimhen, who joined Lille only last summer from Charleroi as a replacement for Cote d’Ivoire Pepe, who moved to Arsenal.
Osimhen became an instant hit at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, delivering admirable performances that endeared him to the club’s fans and the Super Eagles rookie ended with 18 goals and six assists in 38 appearances across all competitions, which earlier earned him Lille’s player of the season award – ahead of Benjamin Andre and Renato Sanchez.
He now succeeds Pepe and becomes the second Nigerian after Enyeama to claim the prize of the best African player in the French top-flight, which has been handed out since inception in 2009.