Victor Boniface has made a blistering start to his Bayer Leverkusen career with nine goal involvements in his first seven Bundesliga games added to Player of the Month and two Rookie awards. So what's the lowdown on the Nigerian striker?
Data correct as of 13 October 2023
Age: 22 (born 23 December 2000)
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Country: Nigeria (one cap)
After cutting his teeth in the game at Real Sapphire in his homeland, Boniface made his breakthrough in the European game at Norwegian top-flight side Bodo/Glimt, where he posted 23 goals and eight assists in 66 games between 2019 and 2022.
That earned him a move to Belgian first division outfit Union Saint-Gilloise in summer 2022 – and the goals continued to flow. The 6’2” forward hit a hat-trick on his debut for the club in a UEFA Champions League qualifying game against Klaksvik, a haul that formed part of his 22 strikes and 12 assists in 55 competitive appearances for Union.
Watch: Boniface delighted to have scored six goals so far.
Boniface proved his elite-level credentials in the Europa League in particular, providing two goals and two assists in four meetings with Union Berlin in the group stage and round of 16, while also hitting the target against Leverkusen in the quarter-finals.
Since moving to Bayer over the summer, he has been a revelation; scoring a debut goal in the DFB Cup and registering a debut assist in the Bundesliga before hitting braces in each of his next two German top-flight outings. That resulted in a first Nigeria cap in the 6-0 win over Sao Tome and Principe on 10 September 2023 before Boniface became only the second ever player - and first since Erling Haaland in January 2020 - to win both the Bundesliga Rookie of the Month and Player of the Month awards in the same month when he collected both gongs for August 2023. He added the September Rookie award to his collection, helped by another brace against Heidenheim.
Plays a bit like: Robert Lewandowski
Comparing a Bundesliga newcomer to one of the league’s absolute all-time greats might sound a tad premature, but hear us out. Boniface is an all-round centre forward, good with both feet, physically powerful, good in the air and with a surprisingly good dribbling ability. His clever movement and ability to lose his marker are also traits he shares with the Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich legend.
Watch: See why Boniface was voted as Player of the Month
He continued his fantastic form with a goal and an assist as Bayer opened their UEFA Europa League account with a 4-0 victory against Häcken and incredibly added a double in a subsequent 4-1 triumph at home to Heidenheim as Die Werkself maintained their incredible start to the 2023/24 campaign. That brace took Boniface to eight goal involvements - six goals, two assists - in his first five Bundesliga matches.
Did you know?
Boniface finished as joint-top scorer alongside Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford in the 2022/23 UEFA Europa League campaign with six goals in 10 games. He was also named in the competition’s official Team of the Season – alongside new team-mate Jonathan Tah.
What they're saying
"Victor's a real problem for opposition defences. He's powerful, quick and makes runs from deep. He has a good mentality and works for the team, not for himself." - Leverkusen head coach Xabi Alonso
"He’s been on our radar for some time. His performance against us absolutely confirmed our positive assessment. Victor is a very commanding and difficult to handle centre forward who will be a challenge for every defender with his physicality. He's also quick and has good technique.” - Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes
Watch: Get to know Boniface
“He’s been playing at a very high level for months and has taken huge steps forward.” - former Union SG coach Karel Geraerts
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