In an exclusive discussion with Pulse Sports, the white-hot striker talked up his form in Germany and explained his relationship with Ballon D'Or nominee Victor Osimhen
With his invitation to the national team ahead of Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Sao Tome, Victor Okoh Boniface’s star is unmistakably on the rise.
The Bayer Leverkusen forward has been in remarkable form since joining Die Werkself in the summer, scoring five goals in his first four appearances in all competitions. His performances have drawn praise from manager Xabi Alonso, who hailed him as a “complete striker”. He has also earned a nomination for the Bundesliga ‘Player of the Month’ award, alongside the likes of Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane.
19:15 - 06.09.2023
Nigerian striker Victor Boniface has been in remarkable form since joining Bayer Leverkusen this summer.
In truth, though, the call-up has been a long time coming. It will be recalled that, last season at former club Union St Gilloise, he finished the Europa Conference League campaign as the competition’s joint top scorer. However, when asked if he ever wondered why he was made to wait, the 22-year-old was philosophical in his response.“No, because even when I was doing good, there (were) a lot of players also,” he said in an exclusive sitdown with Pulse Sports. “It’s not just about me, it’s about the team also.
“We have a lot of good strikers. So I was not surprised.”
Having begun in such a rich vein of form, it seemed only a matter of time before he finally got the call. Playing in a top five league, with all the visibility that brings, is no doubt a factor. Boniface agreed, but subtly pushed back against the notion that was all it took and emphasised the value of his own efforts.
“Yeah, for me, I think that [playing in the Bundesliga, as opposed to the Belgian Pro League] is one part of it,” he conceded.
“But, at the same time, if I had moved to Leverkusen and I was not playing or I wasn’t not doing good, I would not be here, you understand? So it's not just about moving there. It's about the impact on the team.”
The two Victors
If there was any doubt as to whether Boniface belongs, they were quickly dispelled by two recent viral posts on social media: one, a throwback picture of him with Victor Osimhen, the other their viral exchange on the team bus when they met up in camp.
The Leverkusen man, who many are tipping to pair upfront with the Napoli n.9, shed some light on their shared history together.
“That picture, it was not like I knew Osimhen before. That picture was when he was in the under-20s, and we were in the under-17s then. After they won the Under-17 World Cup (in 2015), they were preparing [for the under-20s], and so they played a game with the under-23s – the Olympic team – and we were there to give respect to them.
“After the game, they allowed us to come in and snap pictures. So me and my friends went to Victor to take a picture with him. I was like a fan then.
“When I moved to Belgium, we then became friends. He [would] text me to advise me and stuff. So, we met each other the last time we had holidays, so that’s why you could see in the video that we were not meeting for the first time.”
From fan to friend and now teammate: it is a rapid metamorphosis that has brought Boniface to this point. On Sunday, if Jose Peseiro opts to pair them upfront, they could well become brothers of attacking destruction boot.