Doma United’s gangling striker, Charles Chibuike, is gradually becoming the centre of attraction in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) for his striking resemblance to Napoli and Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen. In this interview with Trust Sports, the bullish youngster spoke on how football fans can’t stop calling him Osimhen, his ambition to play alongside the goal scoring machine and the challenges when he started his career.
How did you start your football career?
It’s a long story but I will summarise. I am from Nkanu Local Government Area of Enugu State. But I was born and bred in Minna, Niger State. I am the last born in a family of six. When growing up, our parents wanted us to go to school but I showed more interest in football. As a matter of fact, my mum did everything to stop me from football because she was afraid someone would break my leg. When I was done with my secondary education at GSS Minna, my only brother asked me to join him in Kaduna. He helped me get a job as a cook and housekeeper for a European family. I was able to raise some money to go back to school. I got admission into Kaduna Polytechnic for a diploma course. However, when I was writing my final exams, something strange happened. As I kept looking at the chalkboard, I began to see a football field. That was how I left the school to concentrate on football. My decision didn’t go down well with my family, especially my mum but I stuck to my guns. Thereafter, I attended so many scouting programmes to develop my football talent. It was not easy for me but thank God things are much better now.
Is your mum still angry at you over your choice of career?
No, my mother is now my number one fan. She is my biggest support system. Right from the time I signed for MFM, she realised that football is not a bad thing. The whole family thought football was a very useless thing.
How did you get into Doma United?
Before I joined Doma United, I had played for a number of clubs. At the start of my career, my agent took me to Abia Comets where I played some friendly matches but ended up signing for MFM of Lagos. So, MFM was actually my first professional club. However, it was not a good experience for me because I was denied playing time. When the club was relegated, I went to sign for Gombe United. Everything was going well but there was a breakdown in negotiation between the club and my agent. From there I moved to Ghana for some scouting programmes. It was while I was in Ghana that Gombe fans who had fallen in love with my style of play pressured the owner of Doma United to bring me back. They told him that I would help his team in the NPFL. So, when I met with him, we had a fruitful discussion and we are both happy about it.
How many goals have you scored this season for Doma United?
In all, I have scored 11 goals in the NPFL and the Federation Cup. In fact, in our Round of 32 match against FR Ebunujuajia of Imo State, I scored my first hat-trick since I turned professional. It was a special moment for me. Hat-tricks don’t happen every day.
What is the target for Gombe United this season?
Our target is no more a secret. We are working hard to qualify for the Super 6 playoff and if possible, win the league title in our debut season. When we started, only a few people gave us any chance but we have since silenced our critics. I am confident that if we get into Super 6, we would pull down mountains.
Which of the matches would you say was the toughest for Doma United?
I will say we found two matches very challenging. Our home match against Rivers United in the first round which we eventually won 2-1 and our recent home match against Enugu Rangers were very tough. In fact, when we played Rangers, I was suspended due to accumulated yellow cards so I didn’t play. When we drew the match, I wept because we needed the maximum points to brighten our chance of a Super 6 spot.
You are popularly called the Victor Osimhen of NPFL. How does this make you feel?
To be honest with you, I receive this comparison with mixed feelings. I feel happy that I am being compared with one of the emerging greats in world football but I feel a bit disappointed that it appears Osimhen is unaware of someone like me. At least two national papers had carried my story, telling the world how his lookalike is playing in the Nigerian league and I expected that he would at least do something to encourage me but at the moment, there is nothing like that. It is indeed gratifying to be compared with Osimhen but I will be happier if he identifies with me. I am actually losing my original identity.
Would you want your fans to stop referring to you as Osimhen?
I doubt very much if there is something I can do to stop football fans from calling me Victor Osimhen. I have done so many things to create my own identity but people won’t stop referring to me as Osimhen. When I walk, people call me Osimhen. When I run, I am called Osimhen. When I score, I am Osimhen. Even when I removed the spray on my hair, it didn’t change anything. There was a day I was travelling and I wore a face cap. Still, people asked, ‘are you Osimhen’s younger brother’? This is how I have become the Osimhen in the NPFL.
What are you doing to achieve Osimhen’s success in football?
Every footballer aspires to be like his mentor or to be better so I am praying to God for Osimhen’s goal scoring grace. He hardly plays without scoring. He is just a crazy goal scorer. I need such grace to become one of the greatest strikers in world football. In fact, I want to be greater than Victor Osimhen so that his name won’t die. Since people can’t stop calling me Osimhen, I am ready to help promote his name. At the moment, he is shining in Europe while I am carrying the name in the Nigerian league.
How often do you watch his videos?
To be honest with you, until recently, I wasn’t watching his videos with keen interest. However, since my physique and goal scoring abilities have made me an Osimhen, I now devote time to watch him play. I am learning some of the crazy things he does with the ball. His power play and daring moves are fascinating to me. I know that one day I will meet him, either here or in Europe.
Is the name Osimhen not putting you under pressure?
Of course, there is pressure because fans want goals from me. They believe I am like Osimhen so I should score in every match. But I like the pressure because it is motivating me to put in my best.
What is your ultimate ambition in football?
Every player with my kind of talent aspires to play for his country. I am only 20 years old, so I want to start with the Olympic Eagles from where I hope to play for the Super Eagles.