‘Difficult’: Boniface speaks on injury nightmare, relieved to return for run-in

Nigeria and Bayer Leverkusen forward Victor Boniface has admitted it was difficult being unable to play football due to his abductor injury.

The 23-year-old suffered a serious injury in January which ruled him out for three months, causing him to miss Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) campaign in the Ivory Coast.

He was also unavailable for Leverkusen’s run-in after the Christmas break, with his last appearance before his injury coming on December 20, 2023, against Bochum.

However, Boniface returned to action on Wednesday after coming on as a second-half substitute in Levekusen’s 4-0 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf in the German Cup semi-final. The Nigerian came on for Patrik Schick with 25 minutes left, affording him some minutes to build up match fitness.

‘My teammates were there for me’ – Victor Boniface

Boniface’s journey back to fitness, though, has been arduous, especially as the forward needed crutches to walk following his injury in January.

But having worked his way back, Boniface expressed his delight to have finally returned to the pitch after spending the last three months on the sidelines. The former Union SG forward also credited his teammates and manager for being by his side throughout the difficult times.

“To be honest it was really difficult [working my way back to fitness]. You know, I got injured when I was supposed to represent my country [at the AFCON] and also at a time when Leverkusen really needed me,” Boniface told Bayer 04 TV after featuring in his first game in three months against Dusseldorf.

“That was when I got injured, but I have my teammates, I have my teammates, I have everyone at the club. They were there for me, so it was good.”

Alonso highlights Boniface’s importance to Leverkusen

Meanwhile, Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso was also happy to see his star striker return to the fold and finally be available for selection.

The Spanish coach has been talking up Boniface’s return in recent weeks and noted that the striker worked hard to regain fitness after being rocked by injury in January. Alonso also emphasised Boniface’s importance to the team and said they needed him.

“It was special for him after three months out. He worked hard to get back on the pitch. He wanted to enjoy it with the players. We needed him back,” he said.

Despite missing the last three months of action, Boniface remains Leverkusen’s top scorer. The striker is currently on 16 goals this season, 10 of which have become in the Bundesliga. His impressive all-round play has also seen him contribute nine assists, which is why his return is refreshing for the club, who currently have no other player with a similar profile.

Super Eagles stars welcome Boniface back from injury

Boniface’s return has also sparked excitement among Nigerians, with some of his international teammates taking to social media to welcome him back from injury.

The ex-Bodo Glimt forward shared a photo of himself back on the pitch, along with the caption “See you in Berlin” after Leverkusen booked their place in the final of the German Cup. The post saw several Super Eagles players flooding the comments section to express their delight at his return.

Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali wrote “Welcome back brother” while Atalanta’s Ademola Lookman also commented, “Let’s go bro.” Nottingham Forest striker Taiwo Awoniyi also wrote “Welcome back bro”, with his club teammate Ola Aina also sharing in the joy of seeing Boniface make a return from injury.

Inasmuch as Victor Boniface’s injury return comes as a huge boost to Leverkusen in their chase for three trophies, it is also great news for Nigeria ahead of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin in June.

‘Difficult’: Boniface speaks on injury nightmare, relieved to return for run-in
Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an Asante Kotoko fan and a passionate sports journalist with a little over five years of experience writing about African football.

His articles and features have been published in renowned news media like The Guardian, DW, Al Jazeera and Sportskeeda. His bylines can also be found in the UK journals World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.