Victor Osimhen and Asisat Oshoala, both hailing from Nigeria, have been named the 2023 African Footballers of the Year.
Osimhen emerged victorious over stiff competition from Mohamed Salah of Egypt and Achraf Hakimi of Morocco to secure the prestigious African Player of the Year title.
Meanwhile, Oshoala claimed her sixth award and extended her record as the Player of the Year (Women), surpassing contenders Thembi Klagtlana from South Africa and Barbara Banda from Zambia.
Osimhen’s remarkable achievement in Morocco marked the end of Nigeria’s 24-year-long wait for this prominent individual accolade. The last Nigerian player to win this award was Kanu Nwankwo back in 1999.
Osimhen now joins the ranks of other Nigerian footballers who have attained this remarkable feat, including Rashidi Yekini (1993), Emmanuel Amunike (1994), Nwankwo Kanu (1996), Victor Ikpeba (1997), and Nwankwo Kanu (1999).
This recognition is a testament to Osimhen’s remarkable performances for both his Italian club, Napoli, and the Nigerian national team, where he is a pivotal member.
His league-leading 26 goals for Napoli last season played a crucial role in elevating the club to new heights.
Osimhen also became the first player in the history of the African Football Awards to have been crowned Player of the Year (Men) after having pocketed the Young Player of the Year (Men) in an earlier year.
Only last Monday, the 24-year-old was crowned the 2022/2023 Player of the Year in Italy’s Serie A, after having won the Young Player of the Year in the same league in the 2021/2022 season.
After picking the award, Osimhen expressed appreciation to God and his coach at the U17 national team level, Emmanuel Amunike, saying without the former Nigerian winger he wouldn’t have achieved the feat.
“Thank God for everything. My special thanks to Emmanuel Amunike, without him I wouldn’t be standing here tonight holding this prestigious and iconic football award. I appreciate everyone for supporting me, thanks to Emmanue Adebayor, Salomon Kaluo and every African legend that encouraged me to reach this level in my career. I can’t forget Didier Drogba, my role model for inspiring me.”
Nigeria’s Super Falcons were also adjudged the best Women’s National Team of the Year following their impressive feat at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Chiamaka Nnadozie, who shone brightly at the FIFA World Cup finals as the Super Falcons reached the Round of 16, was the undoubted winner of the honour of Goalkeeper of the Year (Women).
The Paris FC of France safe hands made a moving speech: “To all the young girls growing up in Africa, dreaming of becoming a footballer one day, believe me dreams do come true. My dad didn’t want me to play football but I’m sure he’s gonna see this and be happy. So, keep dreaming, keep working and I believe that one day you’ll get to this stage.”