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Inside FutbolInside Futbol

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Italy

Inter Milan Strike Gold with Victor Obinna

 

Kristian Sturt

 

A mix of physical attributes are rare for any player, let alone a young one. Pace, strength and agility are hard to find and only a few players can pride themselves on having these raw features. Such players are perfect to take on the physical defenders of the Italian leagues and one of these incredible talents is little known striker, Victor Obinna.

Victor Nsofor Obinna was born on March 25th 1987 in Jos, Nigeria. He plays as a winger and a striker and currently wears the no. 21 shirt for Internazionale.

Obinna started his career in Nigeria playing for his local side, Plateau United, at the age of 15, from where such talents as Udinese’s Christian Obodo and Chelsea’s Jon Obi Mikel hailed. The youngster played for Plateau for just one season before moving on to the lesser known Kwara United in the quest for a first team place. Kwara however was not where Obinna saw his future and once more he moved within Nigeria to Enyimba, and it was during his spell at this club, often named the Inter Milan of the Nigerian league, that teams and scouts started to take notice of the young prodigy.

In his first and only season with Enyimba, Obinna went on trials in Italy including with Inter Milan and Juventus, but not one of the clubs took up the right to buy him. Subsequently the disappointed wunderkind went to join International of Brazil. With no luck on his side however, his work permit was turned down and so he finished the season back with Enyimba.

Of course, all of these trials did not go unnoticed, and his continued success with Enyimba, who he helped to retain the league and the CAF Champions League, was picked up on by many European scouts.

It was Chievo Verona who won the race for his signature with the Nigerian signing a three-year deal with the Serie A side, who soon held him in high regard as evidenced by his making 26 appearances scoring six goals, including a goal on his debut against Parma, in his very first season. However, controversy was surrounding Obinna as teams picked up on the fact that he had already signed a deal with Internacional of Brazil, a mistake for which the striker was soon suspended.

But Obinna would eventually get back onto the field and some say this helped him become the player he is now. Chievo were always flirting with relegation and in the 2006/07 season they went down to Serie B. Chievo claim that they had many offers for Obinna but he proved his loyalty and stayed with the Italian side, playing an integral part in helping them regain their Serie A status the very next season.

Life was good for Obinna but it was soon to change. In October 2007 on his way back from training he was involved in a very serious car accident. Reportedly he swerved from a car that tried to overtake him round a bend, his car flipped several times and was heavily damaged. The talented striker lost consciousness and was taken to hospital where he was luckily diagnosed with nothing more than cuts, bruises and mild shock. This accident was extremely similar to that of Jason Mayélé, also a Chievo striker, who tragically passed away just a year earlier, only a few hundred yards from the site of Obinna’s accident in a very similar tragedy.

The Nigerian however recovered, and ended the season with some stand-out performances, performances that alerted Inter Milan for whom he signed a four-year deal at the beginning of the 2008/09 season under new manager Jose Mourinho. In the very same transfer window Everton’s David Moyes tried to sign the Nigerian on loan but could not secure a work permit in time. Obinna’s Internazionale career may have been short thus far but he has figured several times, scoring his first goal (a stunning solo effort) in a 4-0 win against Roma.

Internationally whilst at Chievo Obinna was called up to the Nigerian national team and made his first appearances in the 2006 African Cup of Nations where the hotly tipped country made the semi-final. Following on from this Obinna walked into the 2008 Summer Olympics team in Beijing, in which he became one of the stand-out players of the tournament. The youngster scored in his first game against Japan and once again in the group stages against the USA, which secured a quarter-final place against Ivory Coast. Nigeria went on to beat their African rivals 2–0, with Obinna scoring a penalty and setting up the second goal.

But Obinna did not stop there: As their captain he led his team to a 4-1 victory against Belgium in the semi-final, before losing out to an unstoppable Argentine side in the final. The Inter player had made a name for himself though and had picked up an Olympic silver medal in the process. The young striker is now a regular for the senior national team alongside well-known quality players such as Kanu, Jon Obi Mikel, Obafemi Martins, Joseph Yobo and Danny Shittu.

Obinna’s physical attributes make him the perfect candidate to play on the wing and up top. His pace, confidence and ability to take on opponents reminds one of some of the best players ever to grace the pitch. While many players like Obinna find it hard to get into a side on the big stage, the young Nigerian has already managed to achieve just this and at only 21 finds himself playing for one of the biggest teams in the world. Will Obinna continue to make an impact and go on to great things? One thing is for sure: He is on the stage to do so and he has the raw talent – so why not?

 

Inter 08/09 Home STANKOVIC               Inter 08/09 Away MAICON

Inter 08/09 home shirt STANKOVIC                           Inter 08/09 away shirt MAICON

Published: Wednesday, 11th Mar 2009