Sports

April 20, 2024

Victor Boniface: From playing in the streets of Akure to Bundesliga champion

Victor Boniface: From playing in the streets of Akure to Bundesliga champion

Last Sunday, Super Eagles forward Victor Boniface made history with his German Bundesliga club, Bayer Leverkusen, when they defeated Werder Bremen 5 – 0 to be crowned the new champions of Germany. The win meant that Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga for the first time with 5 games to spare.

More significantly, Coach Xabi Alonso’s side became the first German club to go 43 games unbeaten. Alonso’s team also displaced perennial champions, Bayern Munich from their Olympian heights in startling fashion.

In all this, Nigeria international, Victor Boniface has been key to coach Alonso’s plans. Despite the disruptive injury spells that have sometimes put him on the sidelines, the Nigerian forward has scored 18 goals and provided 11 assists in 25 games across all competitions.

Boniface who scored the opener before registering an assist in the same game has been a revelation in his debut season in Germany and has now celebrated Leverkusen’s remarkable triumph by getting himself custom-made Diamond chains.

As part of the celebrations that have followed the historic feat in Germany, the 23-year-old Super Eagles striker recruited the services of prominent jeweller, Buchi Obasi, the man behind Osimhen’s championship ring and chains after he led Napoli to the Scudetto last season. One of the large pendants features an encrusted Diamond inscription that reads “Dreams Are For Real” with a throwback picture of his late mother and his siblings.

The other one was created solely as tribute to his late mother, also featuring an encrusted Diamond inscription that reads “Keep Resting Mama.”

The value of both pieces have been estimated to be in the region of ¦ 10,000,000,

After his mother passed away last year, Boniface previously revealed that he grew up with his grand-parents and sometime last year, flew out his grandma to watch him play in the Bundesliga.

Still in celebratory mood, Boniface took a walk down memory lane, as he shared a photo from his early days playing football. In the post which he made on X, Boniface posted a picture captured from his childhood with the phrase “If you like give up”.

Boniface’s post gives fans a glimpse of his humble beginnings and how far he has come; from playing street soccer in Akure, to becoming a Bundesliga champion in his first year in Germany.

The 23-year-old’s post serves as an inspiration to others to keep pushing and not give up on their dreams.

In a brief interview granted after the title-deciding match, Boniface acknowledged his family and fans in Akure, and also hinted at a celebration saying “we go meet, we go shut down everywhere when I come”.

The Nigerian striker was also awarded with an honorary citizenship by the city of Leverkusen alongside his Bayer Leverkusen teammates, including fellow Nigerian football star Nathan Tella.

Bodø/Glimt

Victor Okoh Boniface who started with Lagos-based football academy, Real Saphphire began his journey to prominence when in 2019 he signed for a remote Norwegian side, Bodø/Glimt.

He suffered a ligament injury only two weeks after signing for Glimt, which was said to have kept him on the sidelines for the duration of the 2019 season. He was selected to the Nigeria U-20 squad to play the 2019 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations, but had to withdraw from the squad due to injury. In September 2019 he nonetheless made his league debut for the club.

Union SG

In 2022, Boniface signed a four-year contract with Belgian side Union Saint-Gilloise. Union reached the quarter-finals of the 2022–23 Europa League. The Nigerian youngster scored six goals in the competition, including a brace against Union Berlin in the round of 16, finishing as the competition’s joint top scorer along with Marcus Rashford.

Bayer Leverkusen

In 2023, Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen snapped him up on a 5-year contract that will last until 2028. He made his Bundesliga debut on 19 August, in a 3–2 home victory over RB Leipzig. The following week, he scored his first Bundesliga goals by netting a brace at the Borussia Park in a 3–0 away derby win against Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Hard work, high productivity and discipline attracted national team coach Jose Peseiro to the young Nigerian who was painting German Bundesliga red with goals. Boniface made his debut for the Nigeria senior team on 10 September 2023, coming on in the 64th minute for Taiwo Awoniyi. He provided an assist in that match to Samuel Chukwueze. He was named in the Nigerian squad for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast. However, he was forced to withdraw from the AFCON-bound national team when he sustained a muscle injury. He was replaced by Terem Moffi.

Style of play

Boniface is known for his distinctive style of play. His playing characteristics include strengths in dribbling, finishing, and headed attempts, while his weaknesses lie in offside awareness, holding onto the ball, and defensive contribution.

He is described as a player who likes to dribble, likes to do layoffs, and likes to play long balls. These attributes contribute to his effectiveness as a forward on the field.

His background, including learning to play football in a military barracks in Nigeria, adds an interesting dimension to his journey as a footballer.

Overall, Victor Boniface’s style of play is characterized by his technical abilities, goal-scoring prowess, and unique playing preferences, making him a player to watch in the world of football.