Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso is notoriously hard to please but he dished out rare praise yesterday when describing new Nigerian signing Victor Osimhen as a “young lad with the head of a 40-year-old,” reports Reuters.
Osimhen, who became Napoli’s record signing when he joined from Lille in the summer for a reported 70 million euros, was brought on for his debut after an hour of yesterday’s Serie A match at Parma and made an instant impact in their 2-0 win.
“I was struck by Osimhen’s serious attitude,” said Gattuso. “He hasn’t forgotten where he came from and the sacrifices he made.
“He built himself up on his own and I congratulate him for his will and desire. He is a young lad with the head of a 40-year-old, I hope he doesn’t make mistakes and doesn’t change his attitude.”
Osimhen, 21, grew up in a tough district of Lagos, lost his mother at a young age, and, along with his brother and sister, sold bottled water to drivers stuck in the Lagos traffic to help his family make ends meet.
Gattuso said he wanted to get Napoli back into the top four again after last year’s turbulent season where they finished seventh after a late recovery and won the Coppa Italia.
“It’s natural that given the history of the last 10 years we want to return to the top four,” he said.
“I want to see a well organised team that has clear principles in their heads and that know how to make themselves available in difficult moments.”
Osimhen was brought on in the 61st minute and was involved in the opener two minutes later when he pressured Parma’s Simone Iacoponi in the penalty area causing the defender to head Hirving Lozano’s cross straight at Mertens who drilled it into the bottom right corner.
Osimhen almost helped Napoli double it’s lead moments later when his flick found Insigne, who hit the post.
Insigne did score in the 77th minute and Osimhen was again involved. Parma goalkeeper Luigi Sepe got a hand to Lozano’s cross that was directed at Nigeria forward but could only palm it straight at Insigne, who fired in the rebound from close range.