Olusosun Community: Inside Lagos Slum Where Victor Osimhen Was Raised

A banner on Anisere street congratulating Osimhen on winning the Serie A league

Many Lagos residents associate the Olusosun neighbourhood with the infamous landfill site that once stood next to it. An eyesore that collects their excrement but emits nothing except a stomach-turning stink. A place so dark that the only light emanates from the continual fire incinerating the mound of garbage put there.

That was the prevalent story until the neighborhood produced a scrawny go-getter named Victor Osimhen.

His goal on Thursday gave Napoli their first Serie A title in 33 years. The Mediterranean city of Naples sang Osimhen’s song with awe, almost identical to Diego Maradona’s. Thousands of supporters wore facemasks in honor of the Nigerian whiz-kid as the city skyline bubbled and shimmered from fireworks above. A cold-blooded marksman at the pinnacle of his unfathomable prowess.

With 21 league goals already, he has surpassed all African scoring records in Serie A. Despite this, he still has five games left.



Olusosun dumpsite


Like a subjugated younger sibling, the Olusosun community squats beneath the stinky shadow of the waste site. The neighborhood is just a few kilometers from Ojota, and its odor is the warm welcome that greets visitors arriving in Lagos via the Berger axis.

The landfill is a rolling pile of dirt, decay, and excrement that gets at least 10,000 tons more per day, claiming over 40 acres of land and providing daily meal for scavengers, flies, and vermins.

The Kudirat Abiola Way divides the mammoth of disintegration from the small neighborhood where Osimhen grew up.

Crossing over the road, one walks gingerly into the sloppy, muddy road of Moshalashi lane, which snakes into an alley of nameless streets where houses meld into one another like cancerous cells.


The house Osimhen grew up in


The dirty road comes to a standstill at the concrete flooring off Anisere Close after a few twists and turns and potentially losing one’s sense of direction. A short line of drainage washes garbage past the front of the house where Osimhen grew up, dividing the plastered floor.

A two-story structure squeezed into an area meant for a dwelling half its size. The house’s recent cream and brown paint job fails to conceal its antiquity, as cracks adorn the center pillar and damaged water lines crisscross its environs.

It’s nearly impossible to imagine the stooping building formerly housed one of the world’s top footballers, with the lane reeking of excrement and buzzing with flies.


Baba Mosilimot (Aka Maintain): a former neighbour and street brother of Osimhen


Osimhen’s story contains several scary incidents that elevate it above the level of cliche.

He lost his mother so young that he can’t remember the year. Patrick, his father, lost his work as well, and the children were forced to take on their own duties. Osimhen was the last child, but he didn’t have the advantage that the youngest child usually has.

To save money, the family of eight gave up one of their two rented rooms. They crammed themselves into the one-room flat and prayed for the best.

His had a difficult childhood that taught him the value of hard work, sweat, and community. His neighbors took in and contributed to his survival because he lacked a mother.

Former neighbor Risikat Bello stated that Osimhen was the offspring of all the moms in the alley. He was conscientious and eager to assist, and the women rewarded him with stipends.

“He was a good boy growing up. We all in the neighbourhood used to send him on errands. His elder brother was a newspaper vendor at Ojota and the whole family was working; People around here would send him on errands and reward him with cash,” she told TheCable.


Risikat Bello, a former neighbour of Osimhen


Bello went on to say that one of the women was her late mother-in-law, Mama Oshodi. She stated that Osimhen was always willing to assist the woman in her old age and willingly did errands despite the stress.

“I remember Mama Oshodi, my late mother-in-law, used to send him to buy kerosene. Even errands that I would not be willing to go for the woman. Victor would go at any time,” she said.

“He used to help another woman, Iya Chi-chi, who sold uncooked rice and beans. Victor used to help her carry the bags from her supplier. Sometimes, when he failed to run the errands on time, the woman would threaten to seize his football boots as punishment.”

Olusosun bus station


Baba Muslimot, another former neighbour and street brother popularly known as Maintain, said Osimhen’s perseverance and determination to eke his way out of penury with his power spurred him to become the footballer’s mentor at a very young age.

“I was coaching a team in Egbeda then. But I used to visit Osimhen’s team training at Olusosun Primary School. So, one day, I decided to bring my team over to face the team here. He performed really well in that game and even scored three goals,” Baba Muslimot said.

“From then, I often recruited him into whichever tournament my team would play in. He was very determined and showed a hunger for success. Even when he didn’t have money for transport, I’d tell my wife to give him, and he would come and join my guys in training. He used to keep his boots just on the roof of the house here before the building was renovated.”


Olusosun Primary School: The stadium where Osimhen started his football career


Osimhen discovered hope in football at a young age while struggling for survival. He and a couple of mates joined Peric Academy, a cadet football club in the neighborhood.

Sports remain the brightest lights on the other side of the tunnel for children fumbling through the darkness of poverty. Osimhen was no different. Even when only a few others witnessed it, he felt football could take him to new heights.

According to Victor Abel, a former academy buddy, Osimhen’s unkempt appearance as a child caused some people to underestimate his talent and chances of success in life.

“One thing about destiny: you can not say never. No human being knows tomorrow,” Abel told TheCable.

“When Victor was growing up, he faced a lot of challenges. He could easily be written off based on his appearance — and say he would not amount to anything. But God works in miraculous ways.”

Abel, a former academy mate of Osimhen at Peric FC


Osimhen, a hard worker, was juggling football with street selling. He spent the afternoons pounding defenders in training and the evenings darting after speeding cars in Lagos traffic with sachets of cold water.

“It was hard for the family, but they were hustlers. They were all working, from the firstborn to the last. From selling sachets of water to construction work,” Baba Muslimot added.

However, modest employment stipends, while sufficient to feed the huge family, were insufficient to finance the luxury of sports. Football boots were pricey, at least for him, therefore Osimhen had to come up with another solution to his lack of a suitable one. He and his buddies would climb to the top of the Olusosun landfill, hunting for dirty shoes to wear while playing their favorite game.

Osimhen’s passion and hunger for success, however, slipped at one point, and it needed the intervention of Baba Muslimot to refocus him.

“There was one time he stopped playing football,” he said.

“He was running errands for a ‘Baba Ijebu’ agent, and the work took him off football for a bit.”

Shortly after, Osimhen was called up to the U17 national team camp headed by Emmanuel Amunike, former Super Eagles forward.

Where Osimhen used to hangout with friends. Now, a burial ground


With over 4,000 players from throughout the country vying for a spot on the FIFA Goal Project pitch in Abuja, Amunike allowed each set of players 30 minutes to make an impact.

When Osimhen’s group filed out, the coach was exhausted and waived them off the field after only 15 minutes.

A football career that would have been the envy of many looked to have been wiped out between that minute and the next.

A room of darkness, however, cannot stop the radiance of a golden hub. During the dull contest, an assistant coach observed Osimhen’s tenacity and street-sharpened litheness. He told Amunike about the boy’s hunger. Osimhen was summoned back for another round of trials, and he performed well enough to make the Golden Eaglets’ U17 World Cup-winning squad in 2015.

Osimhen was more than just a member of the squad. He was an essential piece in the team’s well-oiled mechanism. He set a record with ten goals, winning both the golden boot and the silver ball in Chile.

Olusosun was agog, and the community knew the boy it took under its wings a few years ago had matured and would set out to conquer the world.

But Osimhen had to battle another spell of hardship to adjust to the cut-throat world of professional football.

He turned down renowned European clubs like Barcelona, Arsenal, and Juventus, as well as the instant glamour and money they offered. He made the deliberate decision to join VfL Wolfsburg in order to further his own development. His experience at the Volkswagen Arena, on the other hand, was far from a misadventure.

The Nigerian sustained a right knee injury in his first season, which required three surgeries to repair. Soon after, he was sidelined with a shoulder injury.

The team became impatient and shipped him to FC Charleroi in Belgium, where he scraped together his baulking limbs in the calm of the Belgian Pro League.


The alley leading to the house where Osimhen grew up


Osimhen reunited with the fighter of a boy he was in Lagos’ streets, and his resurgence drew Lille to pay $12 million for him in 2019. He scored 18 goals and received the Prix Marc Vivien Foe for the season, which is given to the greatest African player in the French league.

The performance prompted Napoli to pay a club-record €70 million for Osimhen in 2020, making him the most expensive African footballer.

Osimhen’s injury problem surfaced a few months into the biggest transfer of his career: he injured his shoulder while playing for the Super Eagles in an African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualification game against Sierra Leone.

He was out for two months due to the injury. His condition was worse when he caught COVID-19 after another trip to Nigeria. The season finished with only ten goals, raising concerns about the balance between his price tag and talent.

Misfortune struck again the next season. After scoring nine goals in 14 games this season, Osimhen suffered several facial fractures in a Serie A match against Inter Milan in November 2021.

From the impact, one of his eyes came out of its socket, according to the surgeons, and it required titanium plates and screws. Osimhen returned from the injury but was only able to add five goals to his total for the season.

Osimhen loudly sought an injury-free season and got just that in 2022 and 2023.

He formed an almost telepathic partnership with Georgia’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia; they scythed through defences to the Serie A title and got Napoli to the quarter-final in the UEFA champions league.


Osimhen with Baba Mosilimot and other former neighbours during his last visit to the community


Former neighbours sang the songs of Osimhen’s generosity since he struck stardom. The 24-year-old elevated his family and close friends away from the slum and constantly extended his generosity to former neighbours.

“He never forgot his root. If he were somebody else, with the level of hardship he faced while growing up, he would ignore everybody else after success. But he is not like that. He is generous and kind-hearted,” Baba Muslimot said.

Bello added that on each visit to Olusosun, Osimhen doled out money and aid to the community.

“After the stardom and all, he never belittled our little contributions to his life. Each time Victor returns to the community, he gives us money. He does not give us small money, huge figures,” she said.


A banner on Anisere street congratulating Osimhen on winning the Serie A league


In celebration of the Serie A win, banners and murals are flying over the walls of Olusosun in vicarious excitement for one of its very own.

“The entire people of Olusosun congratulate you on your Scudetto de Italia. God’s mercy will never depart from you. Congrats champion!!!” One banner read.

A giant-size mural of Osimhen in the Eagles regalia could be seen beside a placard of memorabilia made by the community elders. Above it sat an illustration of Osimhen’s boot with the tagline: “Olusosun to the world”.


Another banner reads: “Congratulations on your success. The golden boy of Olusosun. The Glory of Olusosun. More Wins, many more goals.”



Osimhen’s success has been a source of inspiration for the younger generation of kids.

Baba Muslimot said the Napoli’s striker’s achievements have shown children from the neighbourhood that there is another way to succeed aside from crime. He added that parents are more willing to allow their wards to pursue their football dreams.

“The kids from here are on a new level of determination. Even parents are receptive to their kids choosing football. Victor has been a good reference point. He has shown them that there is another way out of this place beyond crime and all that. When you go there now, you’ll see ‘young Osimhens’ trying to emulate him,” Baba Muslimot said.

Abel said he is one of such younger boys in the community.

“Osimhen is an inspiration to me, although I am a defender and he’s a striker. His success motivates the younger ones,” he said.

In Osimhen, Olusosun, a community beside an eyesore that Lagos residents do not want to see, has produced the superstar that the whole world doesn’t ever want to stop seeing.


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