Boniface’s youth coach reveals Leverkusen striker’s scouting story

Victor Boniface’s rise has been meteoric and the striker’s potential is frightening after taking the Bundesliga by storm in his debut season. The Nigeria international only joined Bayer Leverkusen last year but has already established himself as one of the best strikers in Germany.

Boniface missed three months of the season through injury but still ended the campaign as Leverkusen’s top scorer after finding the back of the net 21 times. He also recorded 10 assists in all competitions, demonstrating his all-round play.

The 23-year-old’s exploits in the just-ended season helped Xabi Alonso’s side to win the league and cup double and they nearly completed an unprecedented Invincible treble, but for their defeat in the UEFA Europa League final to Atalanta, where Boniface’s compatriot Ademola Lookman stole the show with a sensational hat-trick.

Victor Boniface’s youth coach narrates Leverkusen striker's scouting story
Photo by Icon Sport

For a player who comes from humble beginnings, Boniface flew his youth coach to the BayArena for Leverkusen’s Bundesliga coronation, with a picture of the pair holding the Meisterschale going viral on social media.

Boniface’s youth coach narrates how striker was scouted at inter-class competition

Boniface’s youth coach has now been identified as Blessing Johnson, who runs an academy in Akure in South-Western Nigeria. Johnson said he first crossed paths with Boniface when the striker was in secondary school and looking to carve a career in football.

He narrated that Boniface’s talent was first seen during an inter-class competition, insisting the forward’s resilience and perseverance caught his attention even at such a young age. Johnson said he envisaged Boniface becoming a superstar in the future after being enamoured by the player’s talent and skills.

“I first met Victor at his secondary school. He was in JSS 1 at T Chris School, Akure then. He was discovered at the inter-class football competition we organised to scout for new players. I was struck by his talent and skills,” Johnson told Punch.  

“They were incredibly detailed and imaginative. I asked him about them and he told me that he dreamed of being a famous footballer one day. I could see the passion and determination in his eyes, despite his humble beginnings. There was a fire within him, a desire to create and share his talent with the world. I knew then that he had the potential to achieve greatness. What stood out to me about Victor was not just his talent, but his resilience and perseverance.”

Blessing Johnson on being flown to Germany for Bundesliga coronation

Johnson also opened up on the famous photo of him holding the Bundesliga title with Boniface when Leverkusen were crowned champions on the final day of the season. The Nigeria international wanted to share the moment with his youth coach so he flew him to Germany for his club’s coronation.

Johnson said being inside the BayArena for such a crowning moment filled his heart with joy, adding that it felt special to see one of the graduates of his academy doing well on the big stage.

“The journey to Germany was filled with anticipation and excitement. I couldn’t wait to see Victor in action and watch him achieve another dream. As we arrived at the stadium, the atmosphere was electric, with fans cheering and chanting for their team,” he stated.

“It was clear that it was going to be an intense and thrilling match. As the game began, I watched with pride and nervous energy as Victor showcased his talent on the field and scored the opening goal. The moment the final whistle was blown I couldn’t contain my emotions.

“I was filled with joy, pride, and a sense of accomplishment for Victor. Being there to share in Victor’s success was a truly special moment for me. Seeing the smile on his face and the happiness radiating from his teammates and fans was indescribable.”

‘Victor Boniface’s success has motivated many kids in the academy’

Johnson further admitted that Boniface’s success has trickled down to his academy, with many of the kids under his care idolising the Leverkusen forward. From playing for the academy in Akure, Boniface had a short stint in Cyrus before joining Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt in 2019, where his professional career began. The 23-year-old spent three years in Norway before Belgian side Union Saint-Gelloise snapped him up in 2022.

The Nigerian continued to shine and score goals, with his impressive performances earning him a move to Leverkusen just a year later. While Boniface is still very young, he boasts three league titles now (two in Norway and one in Germany) as well as the DFB Pokal. He is also a one-time top scorer in the Europa League and was voted as the Rookie of the Year in the Bundesliga last season. Having watched Boniface go from his academy to excelling in Europe, Johnson said the striker’s success has brought recognition to his academy and has motivated the young ones to work hard towards also reaching such a level.

Victor Boniface’s youth coach narrates Leverkusen striker's scouting story
Photo by Icon Sport

“It was a dream come true for him and our academy. Seeing him progress to a top European club like Bayer Leverkusen has been incredible. It is a testament to his determination and passion for the game, and I feel incredibly proud to see him living his dreams and excelling at the highest level,” Johnson said.

“Victor’s success has brought recognition and attention to our academy, which has helped to attract more talented and passionate young players. His story has inspired many young players to join our academy in hopes of achieving similar success.

“Additionally, Victor’s success has also motivated and inspired our current players to work harder and push themselves to reach their full potential. They see Victor as a role model and proof that with dedication and hard work, their dreams of becoming professional footballers can come true.”

Boniface is currently part of Super Eagles boss Finidi George’s 23-man squad for the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin. Nigeria will lock horns against Bafana Bafana on June 7 before taking on the Cheetahs three days later away from home. Boniface is expected to start both games, especially with Napoli forward Victor Osimhen ruled out due to injury.

Boniface’s youth coach reveals Leverkusen striker’s scouting story
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.