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No evidence viral image shows former Nigerian footballer Wilson Oruma

IN SHORT: A number of posts on Facebook claim that Nigerian footballer Wilson Oruma is mentally ill and has been seen in public almost naked. However, we have found no evidence to support this claim and Oruma has said he is fine.

“This is Nigerian former football player, Wilson Oruma. In life, always try to be good to others and avoid taking advantage of others for you don't know what the future holds,” reads the caption to an image circulating on Facebook.

Wilson Oruma is a retired Nigerian footballer. He played for Nigeria at the 2002 and 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, where the team finished third both times. He was also part of the team that won gold in football at the 1996 summer Olympic games, a year after making his international debut.

The image circulating on social media shows two photos side by side. On the left is Oruma and on the right a man, seen from the back, who appears to be wearing only a ragged loincloth. According to the posts, the photo on the left shows the football star in 2016 and the other shows him in 2024.

The posts insinuate that Oruma is mentally ill. 

Similar posts can be found here and here. (Note: See more instances listed at the end of this report.)

But how true is this claim? We checked.

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OrumaImage_PFalse

Misleading photo

A reverse image search revealed that the photo of Oruma, which the social media posts allege was taken in 2016, is in fact from the African Cup of Nations in 2006 when Nigeria played against Ghana.

Oruma retired in 2010 after one season with Greek team Athletic Club Kavala

We also did a reverse image search of the image of the half-naked man. We found no instances of the image published anywhere, other than in the social media posts claiming the man is Oruma.

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While this doesn’t prove the man is not Oruma, there is also no evidence that the image shows the true state of the footballer in 2024.

In 2023, Oruma denied claims that he was mentally ill, saying he was fine. 

The fact-checking organisation Dubawa has also debunked the posts, calling them false and misleading.

Similar posts about the state of the Wilson in 2024 can be found here, here, here, here and here.

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