In the sphere of Nigerian football, a rising star, Kingdom Osayi, is capturing the hearts of fans and pundits alike.
TOP MEDIA reports that Osayi, born on June 3, 2004, in the bustling city of Lagos, has grown to become an outstanding goalkeeper, currently donning the colours of Doma United in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL). In this piece, we delve into the life and career of this talented shot-stopper, exploring the highs and lows that have shaped him into the athlete he is today.
Osayi’s journey in football started at the tender age of 8 in Lagos. Initially, he played as an outfield player, but fate intervened during a tournament, leading him to take up the role of a goalkeeper. Little did he know that this decision would shape his destiny.
Osayi quickly excelled in his new position, and his innate talent caught the eyes of coaches, setting the stage for his remarkable journey.
Born to Caroline Obun and Augustine Osarumwnese Osayi, Kingdom is the third of four siblings. His roots trace back to Esan South East in Edo state, where both parents hail from the same village. This background forms the foundation of Osayi’s resilience and determination to overcome challenges.
From humble beginnings in Mushin, Lagos, where he combined school, training, and odd jobs to support his football dreams, Osayi’s story is one of perseverance. His journey has been filled with both trials and triumphs. He sold fruits, pure water, corn, and plantain on the streets of Lagos to purchase football kits, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to the round-leather game.
The goalkeeper narrated:
“There have been a lot of positives, trying times, and negatives in my journey. The crux was waking up in the morning in an area where it is difficult to feed and challenging to get money to buy kits.
“Although there is support now from my parents, initially, there wasn’t. However, in the long run, when they saw they couldn’t stop me from playing football, they decided to see how it would unfold. Still, financial aid from them was scarce because the money wasn’t coming forth as expected.
“I had to go about selling fruits for my mum, sometimes selling pure water, corn, or plantain, hawking them on the road just to ensure I had enough money for my kits.
“At times, I would skip school to attend training or skip classes to make money for my kits. It was challenging, but I never gave up. I kept believing, praying, and giving my all, maintaining focus until it paid off.
“The turning point came when I moved from Team 360 in Lagos to F.C. Bethel at Yaba, in the railway compound. Within just one year, I moved from F.C. Bethel to Heartland, becoming the youngest goalkeeper in the team at 16. This marked the beginning of a new chapter. The challenges continued, being an academy player and the youngest goalkeeper. With talent, I managed to keep 13 games and secure 5 clean sheets, including the F.A. Cup and the NNL league.”
With the support of experienced players like Ebele Obi and Japhet Okugbor, as well as goalkeeping coach, Loginus Duru, he overcame discouragement and emerged stronger.
“The journey wasn’t without discouragement, but it paid off. I was fortunate to be with players like Ebele Obi, the elder brother of John Mikel Obi, and Japhet Okugbor, now with Rangers International. They became my backbone, providing courage, training, and support.
“Goalkeeper trainer Loginus Duru at Heartland was also instrumental in shaping my career before moving through various coaches down to the one I have now at Doma United.
“It has been a journey filled with challenges, but I’m having the best moment of my life, and I know the best is yet to come.”
Senior Professional Career
The 19-year-old joined Doma United from the defunct Mountain of Fire and Miracle (MFM) FC in 2022.
In the 2023-2024 NPFL season, Osayi emerged as a key player for Doma United. His standout performances between the sticks played a pivotal role in the team’s defensive success, boasting an impressive 13 clean sheets by matchday 17.
Notably, he achieved a remarkable record of 10 consecutive clean sheets at home since April 2023 as well as 9 consecutive clean sheets both home and away – showcasing his consistency and dexterity.
Kingdom’s role as a goalkeeper for Doma United took an unexpected turn as he provided the ammunition, with not one but two crucial assists that helped his club to victory in the derby (versus Gombe United).
With the visitors leading 1-0 thanks to Emmanuel Ekpeyong’s 52nd-minute opener, it was another Emmanuel, Jesam, who benefited from the show of unique skills and vision from his goalkeeper.
Two minutes after Ekpeyong’s curtain raiser, the goalkeeper defied the typical expectations of his role in a way reminiscent of Liverpool’s Alisson Becker.
Honours and Recognition
Osayi’s contributions did not go unnoticed, as he played a significant role in Doma United’s title challenge during their inaugural NPFL season. Despite not receiving a senior national team call-up for the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), he earned recognition and high praise from fans nationwide.
Osayi’s dedication to excellence is evident in his approach to training.
He emphasises the importance of constant learning, maintaining fitness through gym sessions, and honing his communication and footwork skills. His commitment to being a team player and on-field maturity are noticeable too.
“After every game, I go back to the drawing board watch the clips and look at my lapses. I look at the pattern of our next opponent, their build-up, ‘what is their danger tactics to get their goal?’
“It has really built me up as a professional.”
Osayi draws inspiration from iconic goalkeepers like Vincent Enyeama, Femi Thomas, Ederson of Manchester City, Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid, and Alisson of Liverpool. Their composed and calm decision-making styles inspire him to push harder and continually improve.
“As a child, I enthusiastically watched football, drawing inspiration from some of the finest goalkeepers, even though I couldn’t observe their play up close.
“Enyeama stands out as a prominent figure who has left a lasting impact on me. Despite not having the chance to witness his performances firsthand, I extensively viewed his clips. The composure he displayed on the field left an indelible impression on me.
“Another goalkeeper who has influenced my approach is Femi Thomas, known for his calm and decisive decision-making.
“Beyond the Nigerian football scene, I also look up to European goalkeepers such as Ederson and Courtois. The likes of Alisson from Liverpool further fuel my drive to work harder and bring out the best in my abilities.
“These goalkeepers serve as constant sources of inspiration, motivating me to push my limits and elevate my game.
“Among these star goalkeepers, past and present, Enyeama’s journey holds a special place in my heart, and learning from them has been a driving force behind my continuous quest for excellence.”
Kingdom Osayi Charity
Beyond the field of play, Osayi believes in giving back to the community. However, he prefers to keep his charitable efforts modest, channelling support through a ministry to ensure the focus remains on making a positive impact rather than seeking recognition.
“Yes, I usually do, but I channel my contributions through a ministry; that’s how I prefer to handle it. I don’t actively involve myself in the process; instead, I entrust the ministry to carry out the charity works on my behalf.
“Most of the time, I prefer not to publicise my involvement in helping others, so I opt to work through the ministry.”