Victor Osimhen has cleared Napoli of any blame after revealing the club did not stop him from representing Nigeria at the 2021 Africa Cup.
Osimhen defends Napoli as he reveals why he missed AFCON with the Super Eagles
The 23-year-old attacker missed Nigeria's campaign in the biennial tournament earlier this year.
Osimhen was not part of Nigeria's squad that played in Cameroon due to an injury. The ex-Lille striker suffered a facial fracture injury in Napoli's Serie A clash against Inter Milan last November.
Osimhen's AFCON absence controversy
The injury ruled him out of action for two months, but there were claims that Napoli extended his return date to prevent him from playing for Nigeria at the AFCON.
However, Osimhen has now leapt to the club's defence, saying they never stopped him from linking up with the Super Eagles squad.
Although the injury needed surgery as Osimhen broke many bones, he was ready to turn up for Nigeria. The Napoli star revealed he called the then Super Eagles coach Austin Eguavoen to tell him his intentions.
"For those that know me, they know I carry Super Eagles in my heart," Osimhen said in a pidgin interview on Wazobia FM, translated by Pulse Sports Nigeria.
"Any opportunity I get, I am always eager to play for the team. But I tell you the truth, my injury had not healed when I informed the coach that I would like to represent the team.
Osimhen added that he informed Napoli's Sporting Director of his intention to play for Nigeria in the competition and gave him the go-ahead.
"I told my Sporting Director I need to go to the AFCON not because the Super Eagles needed me but because it was my dream."
"I played a part in the qualification process, and I told coach Eguavoen that I would be in camp.
Covid not Injury stopped Osimhen from playing at AFCON
While Osimhen was willing to play for Nigeria even though he was not fit, the youngster revealed Covid-19 stopped him from linking up with the team.
The Nigerian international revealed he contracted coronavirus just a day before his birthday after Napoli had permitted him to travel to Nigeria.
"One day before my birthday, I got Covid, which was legit," Osimhen added.
"Napoli cannot tell me not to represent Nigeria, and they have not told me anything like that before.
"It was the Covid thing that stopped me, and not anything else," Osimhen concluded.
In Osimhen's absence, the Super Eagles crashed out in the round of 16, losing to Tunisia.
NB: The quotes were edited and translated from Nigerian pidgin into English.