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Terry penalty miss in Champions League final inspired Lille super-striker Victor Osimhen to become a professional footballer

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A long road

Lille OSC v RC Strasbourg - Ligue 1 Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Victor Osimhen is still a fairly unfamiliar name across European football, but if the 20-year-old Lille striker continues his imperious early-season form, that won’t be the case for too long. With 6 goals in his first 8 league games, he’s powering Lille towards the top of the table as they look to at least repeat last season’s second place finish despite losing Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal and Rafael Leāo to AC Milan.

Osimhen was signed from Belgian side Charleroi this summer, after scoring 20 goals for them last season while on loan from Wolfsburg. Charleroi had exercised their buy-option at the end of the season, but by August, the Nigerian international was moving on already.

A rather complete striker already, Osimhen first burst onto the scene at age 16 at the U17 World Cup, where he led Nigeria to the title with 10 goals in 7 games, winning the Golden Boot along the way (Christian Pulisic, Jay Dasilva, and Ike Ugbo also participated in that tournament). Not long after he moved to Wolfsburg, but injuries hindered his adaptation. He rediscovered his confidence in Belgium last season, and has been going from strength to strength ever since. He will undoubtedly want to get his first European goal on Wednesday as well, against Chelsea, especially as the Blues played an indirect, yet significant part in his motivation to become a professional footballer.

As he told France Football in a recent interview, it was John Terry’s miss in Moscow that, in a way, inspired him at a young age when he was still living at home in Lagos.

“I watched the Champions League. I remember of a Chelsea-Manchester United final. I wasn’t really for anyone in particular, but when Terry missed his penalty… I was so annoyed that I ran out of the bar. A lady was opening the door at the same time. Smash! I took it straight to the face.

“I bled a lot. My eyelid was split open… (laughs). I was telling myself, when they were putting stitches in: ‘If I don’t become a professional footballer with the passion I have for this game, I will never forgive myself…’ The road has been a long one.”

-Victor Osimhen; source: France Football via Sport Witness

Watching that final and that miss in 2008, many of us also felt as if we had just been smashed in the face by a door. But that actually happened to Victor and while we carry the psychological scars from that day, he probably still has the physical scars to show for it. Wednesday’s match should be a special occasion for the young man, though hopefully Chelsea will still be able to take home all three points.