Lookman over Osimhen? Segun Odegbami stirs debate

Nigerian football icon Segun Odegbami has sparked a debate by suggesting Atalanta's Ademola Lookman might be on a faster track to footballing greatness compared to Napoli's Victor Osimhen.

Both young Nigerians have enjoyed remarkable seasons in their respective careers. Osimhen spearheaded Napoli's charge to their first Scudetto in over three decades, earning the prestigious African Footballer of the Year award in the process. He is the first Nigerian to secure that achievement since Nwankwo Kanu in 1999.

However, Odegbami believes Osimhen still lacks a crucial mental shift to reach the pinnacle.

“He is a very good player but still on the periphery of greatness despite his becoming Africa's best player and his stellar goalscoring in Napoli,” Odegbami said, according to Complete Sports. “When he makes that final mental transition, when he becomes fully aware of his capability and starts to play deliberately with ease, confidence, and composure, he will immediately join the ranks of the gods of African football.”

In contrast, Odegbami sees Lookman as having already achieved this mental transformation. Lookman's awe-inspiring hat-trick in the Europa League final seems to be the tipping point for Odegbami.

“Lookman struck a sensational hat-trick – the first of any African in a European final – to guide underdogs Atalanta BC to an emphatic 3-0 victory over Bundesliga winners Bayer Leverkusen,” as per Complete Sports.

 “The Super Eagles striker played with supreme confidence and took all his goals with such classy composure that he was named the Man of the Match.”

Odegbami goes beyond the goals themselves, impressed by Lookman's overall demeanor. “I listened to Ademola Lookman after the match when he addressed the press,” Odegbami added. “I saw in his eyes and heard in his voice, the evidence of his metamorphosis from a really ‘good’ player to a ‘great’ one, going forward. Ademola will never be the same player again.”

While acknowledging Osimhen's accomplishments, Odegbami believes Lookman's recent performances elevate him to a superior level. “It is now that Nigeria will start to enjoy and benefit from the greatness of the man,” the Super Eagles legend concluded.

Lookman's impressive season with Atalanta, including a stellar return of 16 goals and 9 assists, adds weight to Odegbami's claims. This bold statement from the legendary Nigerian figure is sure to spark debate as both Osimhen and Lookman look to build on their successes in the upcoming season.

Ademola Lookman vs Victor Osimhen: Tales of two rising Nigerian stars

Ademola Lookman and Victor Osimhen are two Nigerian footballers rapidly putting their names in the global footballing landscape. Their journeys, however, have taken contrasting paths, leading to their current positions as exciting young talents.

Lookman's career began at Charlton Athletic's academy, showcasing early promise. A high-profile move to Everton in 2017 failed to translate to consistent playing time, leading him on a series of loan spells across Europe (RB Leipzig, Fulham, Leicester City). Despite glimpses of brilliance, Lookman struggled to find a permanent home. 2022 became a turning point.

Ademola Lookman vs Victor Osimhen
Photo by Icon Sport

He switched allegiance to Nigeria, thrived with the Super Eagles (6 goals in total for Nigeria), and finally found stability at Atalanta. Lookman's debut season with Atalanta was a revelation. He scored on his debut, continued his hot streak throughout the season (15 goals, 8 assists), and capped it all off by securing Player of the Season for the 2022/2023 campaign.

This term, he has 16 goals, 9 assists, and a Europa League gold medal. Lookman has 66 goals and 35 assists in 277 club matches.

Victor Osimhen, on the other hand, boasts a trophy cabinet already overflowing with accolades. He started his senior career with a bang, winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup with Nigeria in 2015. After impressive spells in Belgium (Charleroi), and France (Lille), Osimhen landed a record-breaking €70 million transfer to Napoli in the Serie A. His impact was immediate, earning him the Serie A Best Young Player award in 2021-2022.

Ademola Lookman vs Victor Osimhen
Photo by Icon Sport

The following season was a dream run for Osimhen and Napoli. He smashed the record for most goals scored by an African player in Serie A history with 26 goals, contributing significantly to Napoli's first Scudetto in 33 years. Osimhen's individual brilliance was further recognized with the league's Best Striker and Footballer of the Year awards. He is currently the highest-scoring African player in Serie A history.

Osimhen's achievements extend to the international stage. He won the Golden Boot at the 2015 U-17 World Cup and has been a regular for the Nigerian national team, reaching the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final. He was recently honored with the prestigious African Footballer of the Year award, the first Nigerian to receive this recognition since 1999.

The Lagos-born forward has 114 goals and 28 assists in 223 club matches, and 21 goals for the national team.

Looking ahead

Lookman and Osimhen represent different stages in a footballer's journey. Lookman (26 years old) is basking in the glory of a mind-blowing season and establishing himself at a top European club. Osimhen (25 years old), already a decorated champion, seeks to maintain his phenomenal goalscoring form and add more trophies to his collection. Both players have the potential to become Nigerian legends, and their contrasting paths offer intriguing narratives for fans to follow.

Avatar photo
Toyosi Afolayan

Toyosi Afolayan is a sports journalist who breathes life into the games we love. He loves to combine insightful analysis with historical background, creating a richer understanding of sports. Afolayan's expertise ranges from captivating narratives to live broadcasts, captivating audiences across platforms like Ojbsport, AllNigeriaSoccer, TVC Entertainment, Bounce Networks, Kwara TV, ICIR, EaglesTracker, and NFF TV. His background in History and International Studies adds depth, revealing the connections between sports, politics, and national identity.