• In Belgian hospital

Former Nigerian junior international, Philip Osondu has died in Belgium after taking himself to the hospital to be examined for an undisclosed ailment on Thursday.

According to agency reports, he felt unwell at work and decided to visit the hospital where he subsequently died.

Born on November 28, 1971 in Aba, Abia State, Osondu played regularly for the Nigerian youth teams, but never made it to the Super Eagles’ first team during his hey days.

He was a key player in the Golden Eaglets squad that featured in the FIFA Under-16 World Cup tournament hosted by Canada in 1987. Nigeria reached the final of that championship only losing on penalties to the Soviet Union. 

For his heroic performance, Osondu got the World Cup Golden Ball as best player of the tournament featuring as the arrow head for the Golden Eaglets.

Before shooting into national and global limelight, Osondu featured for Falcon FC of Aba that later became Enyimba International and El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri. 

Seen as an emerging football talent, he caught the attention of football scouts in a deal that took him to Belgian side, RSC Anderlecht of in 1988. 

A year later, the 18-year-old striker made his debut at the highest level in an away match against Germinal Ekeren in 1989 playing under Coach Aad de Mos. 

However, due to huge competition in the team with players like Luc Nilis, Luis Oliveira, Marc Van Der Linden and Gert Verheyen being preferred for first team shirts, Osondu barely had playing time in the squad.

The Nigerian therefore went on loan to neighbours RWDM between 1990 and 1992 where he got more playing opportunities under Coach Hugo Broos. For the first time in the First Division, Osundu also found the back of the net, scoring his first goal in a 4-1 win over Beerschot VAV. 

A year later, Broos left for Club Brugge and was succeeded by Ladislav Novak. This managerial change again led to fewer playing opportunities for Osondu, and his eventual return to Anderlecht in the summer.

The battle to save his faltering career saw Osondu moving to second division side, La Louviere in 1994, where he scored five times in twenty matches. A season later, the petite and technically gifted forward swapped La Louvière during the winter break for Union Saint Gillis, where he saw off the remainder of that season. 

Thereafter, he also played for Diegem Sport in the Belgian league for several years and FC Merchtem in year 2000 before finally calling it quit with the round leather game.

Regarded as a great talent, Osundu, who got high praises and accolades as a youth international, failed to fulfill his potential in Belgium as a professional footballer.

Aside being entangled in age controversy during his pro career in the Northwestern Europe nation, the late Osundu is often cited among the many young Africans whose career suffered great setback for presumably embarking on a professional stint abroad too early. – With agency reports

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