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“With Osimhen, I struggled more” – Ex-Juventus defender Chiellini says Africa’s Best is his toughest opponent

The Italian defender has announced his retirement from active football after a career that established him as one of the best of his generation

Former Juventus star Giorgio Chiellini has revealed that Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen was one of the toughest players he defended against during his illustrious career, Soccernet.ng reports. 

Chiellini this week drew the curtain on a successful playing career three days after his last club, Los Angeles FC, was defeated in the MLS Cup final by Columbus Crew.

The 39-year-old no-nonsense defender featured in over 700 club games for Juventus, Fiorentina, Livorno, and LAFC, going up against some of the best strikers in the game.

However, Chiellini, who won nine Scudetto titles and reached two Champions League finals, has confessed that Napoli’s Osimhen – more than Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez – was the toughest striker that gave him nightmares.

Speaking during Sky Calcio Club, as per Tutto Napoli, Chiellini said,

“Which attacker bothered me more? Honestly, I marked Lautaro well, Osimhen a little worse. I was struggling more. 

“I was at the end of my career with both of them; after the knee operation, I suffered from it and I couldn’t hold it any longer.”

Giorgio Chiellini
Chiellini and Osimhen

Osimhen has been a terror to defenders in the Italian Serie A as he scored 26 goals last season to finish as the league’s top scorer – the first African player to do so.

Handing a helping hand to younger defenders in the Italian top flight, Chiellini revealed the best way to stop the reigning Africa Player of the Year.

“How do you stop Osimhen? You let him take the ball towards you, which isn’t dangerous,” Chiellini pointed out.

“Even if he turns, he doesn’t bother me and when he gets to the area I’m on top of him and don’t let him breathe. It’s difficult for the ball to enter the net on its own; they always score the goals; Osimhen scores them, not Zielinski in the third half. If Politano then scores from 30 meters I’ll tell him well done, but it doesn’t happen very often.”

Osimhen scored his seventh Serie A goal on Saturday. The Super Eagles forward ghosted between two Cagliari defenders to head home a perfect Mario Rui cross in the second half of Napoli’s 2-1 win.

 

Chiellini, however, believes he would not have allowed Osimhen room to head the ball if he was a Cagliari defender.

The retired defender said: “In the goal against Cagliari, I don’t see anyone close to Osimhen; I only see two in the area, and the cross can only arrive there: it’s a mistake.

“If I had been there, Osimhen would not jump. With a shoulder, I would have made sure he didn’t reach the ball. I wouldn’t have taken it, but he wouldn’t have taken it either.”

Osimhen also has two assists in Serie A, the latest of which, apart from giving Napoli the winning goal against Cagliari, is being considered among the finest ever seen in Italy.