November 30, 2022

Peter Odemwingie: I’d happily drop down to League One to get a game… I’m just a big kid who misses football

October 16, 2016

Out-of-work forward will do anything it takes to get back out on the football pitch and work his way back to Premier League

PETER ODEMWINGIE is frustrated at the lack of chances to find another Premier League club and is willing to drop down to League One to continue his career.

Nigerian international Odemwingie has scored in every competition from the Champions League to the World Cup, and is a three-time winner of the Premier League player of the month award.

But the former West Brom and Stoke striker has been without a club since being released by the Potters in the summer – and in a candid interview with SunSport, revealed his plan to ‘start from scratch’ again to try and make it back to the Promised Land at the ripe old age of 35.

He said: “I am prepared to drop down in the short term until the summer, and hopefully by then I will have attracted interest from the Premier League or one of the European leagues.

“I will play my way, starting from scratch, to get back to whatever level that I can. I need a window to show what I can still do.

“I am not afraid to be on League One money; I’m just a big kid who misses football.

“I want to serve a purpose and show people you don’t have to give up, that I will absolutely 100 per cent go down a level – there is nothing to hide.

“We started playing football as kids not for the money, but for the group dynamic. Every football club in every division is a family, from Manchester United down to Boreham Wood.”

He recounts numerous occasions of being a frustrated armchair fan, having not played since last season while on loan in the Championship with Bristol City.

And has kept himself incredibly fit in the meantime, as retirement was never an option – even entertaining thoughts of playing for Nigeria in the 2018 World Cup.

He added: “I have briefly thought of retiring gracefully, but the next three months will probably decide the rest of my career.

“I don’t want to be one of those has-beens who carries on – but I sit at home watching TV, seeing someone get a ball where I would love to receive it and he didn’t make the best of it.

“And I say to myself ‘what am I doing on the sofa still’ – so I will go out there at whatever level and I believe in myself so much to attract enough interest in the higher levels to get myself back.”

“We have Odion Ighalo, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, all brilliant players, but you must never give up. Many Nigerians play until their late 30’s, so why not me?”

Odemwingie has just had his third child with English girlfriend Sarah Fallon, and a move abroad where mega bucks lay was not on his list of summer priorities despite offers from China and Malaysia – something which other “spoilt” footballers may have turned their heads at.

He said: “I am from a humble background, so to play on nice pitches and nice dressing room is already a privilege.

“Growing up in Nigeria, you had no changing rooms; you just got into a hot sweaty bus with no air conditioning after training, and then got dropped on the side of the road while British kids were in nice academies.

“So many footballers now are spoilt, particularly the kids, as they have had it all easier than many of us.

“But it is not their fault; they were born into it, so when they go to a smaller club they ask why there isn’t even an ice bath. It spoils you or raises your expectations.”

Odemwingie is appearing in a documentary following out of contract footballers which airs this Sunday – but has irons in the fire, hopefully to be completed in the next few days – and his message is clear to banish the frustration and never give up.

He said: “Players have to appreciate their past, get a grip of today to make sure the future is there as we take it all for granted as people and footballers.

“We all make lots of money, but they will miss the game more when it is all gone. Ex-pros have told me once told me you will miss most putting the football kit on and doing what you love most, so I know I must make the most of the two or three years I have left.”

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