Moses Odubajo: “The big players always show up on the biggest stages”

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From scoring the winner from 25 yards out on his first senior start at home to Rochdale in the  2011-12 campaign, two seasons on he scores a magnificent 25 yard volley against Rotherham United in the League One Play-Off Final at Wembley. Although he came up on the losing side Moses Odubajo had produced a montage of brilliant displays over the course of the 2013-2014 campaign. Moses had rose to prominence in Russell Slade’s side that year he had been an ever-present figure for the O’s scoring 12 goals in 57 appearances with several assists to his name; he helped the London club finish third in the League One table.

GAFF.TV had pleasure of spending the evening with Brentford winger Moses Odubajo as he took the time out of his busy schedule to relinquish his duties as professional footballer as he answers questions and gives us an insight into his promising rise from the youth ranks at Leyton Orient to the physicality and high demands of the Championship at Brentford.

 

“Moses is the best player to come out of Orient in generations. It would take a king’s ransom to get him out of the club” {Chairman: Barry Hearn}

 

That was the statement made by the Chairman Barry Hearn at the time after a summer of speculation. Moses was the subject of gossip with many clubs showing some form of interest. June 27th 2014 it was announced that Brentford had made a bid for the energetic winger and that Odubajo signed a three-year deal for a reported fee of £1million. “In my eyes Brentford were best team to play for, their philosophy is really good for young a team, the average age in the squad is 23” echoed the 21 year old on his thoughts on his new side.  Breaking the club record transfer fee held by Hermann Hreidarsson in 1998.

By the age of 20 Moses Odubajo had already made over 100 career appearances before he made the switch from East to West London. Something he couldn’t possibly imagine doing when unsuccessful on trial for Millwall on two occasions at the age of 14 and again two years later.  “U14’s I was scouted for Millwall, I was on trial and I took it like it was a chance that I couldn’t waste, but at the time it was hard. I just felt that I wasn’t getting the look-in that I had thought I would get being on trial.”

Moses grew up in South East London Greenwich, where he learnt his trade as a young footballer. At 16 he was already convinced that becoming a professional footballer was what he wanted to pursue as a career.  I asked what spurred him on to make it as a footballer, he stated; “My brothers personally, and I would say the small group of friends I had around me. The people around me always had belief in my ability; I just had to make sure I made use of the talent God had blessed me with”. Odubajo was not the only member of his family to play at a professional level, his older brother Tomiwa Bolarinwa applies his services abroad in Thailand. GAFF.TV questioned whether that was something the Brentford winger may consider later on his career “I can’t see myself picking everything up and moving abroad, I think I’ve got too much here to just up and leave”.

Odubajo scores his first goal for the Orient with a 25-yard strike

Odubajo scores his first goal for the Orient with a 25-yard strike

During his youth, Moses and his brothers went through a tough period whilst growing up, having to deal with the death of his mother. “The biggest influence on his footballing career to this date” he quoted. “Even before she passed away, she was always at my games cheering us on the side-lines. I remember her making me a little portfolio to send out to clubs”.

Moses played youth level at Leyton Orient, where he progressed through the ranks to then finally breakthrough to the first-team in the 2011-12 campaign. With a partial taste of first-team football in his first two seasons as a pro; Moses established himself as a key asset to the East London club in the 2013-2014 campaign. For all his performances in that season he was rewarded with the Football League Young Player of the Month for April.

Sunday 25th May 2014 League One Play-Off Final, Wembley. It had been 32 years since Orient last played in the second tier of English Football. Brentford were considered favourites after their performances over the course of the season. I had to ask what were his thoughts in the build-up to final and scoring that rocket of a goal.

“The thoughts that were going through my mind then if I had known at the time I would tell you now. “The last thing I wanted to feel were nerves because I knew I won’t be able to play at my best. There was this saying that the big players always show up on the biggest stages, I tried not to over complicate things and prepare how I normally for a game. I just took my opportunity when it came.” Moses first and last goals for the O’s were definitely goals to remember, both from 25-yards out. He stated that both goals were just as important to him at the time, but the most memorable would have to be the 25-yard volley scored at Wembley. He believed that was the goal to stake his claim on the big stage.

Scores the opener in the Play-Off Final with a 25-yard volley at Wembley

Scores the opener in the Play-Off Final with a 25-yard volley at Wembley

Due to Odubajo’s outstanding performances that season it was quite a shock that he hadn’t received a call-up for England Under-20s or Under-21s. Moses is of Nigerian descent meaning he can play for either nation. If selected for both I asked which would prefer representing, he stated; “Probably the nation that calls me up first! Being called up for any nation is considered to me as a privilege, just shows how far I’ve actually come.”

As a young player still in the early stages of his career, many would consider Moses to be a role model to the younger generation growing up wanting to get into the industry. He offered to share some words of wisdom, saying that “You have to be willing to make sacrifices, e.g. going out with friends and also “The will to work hard”.

In the build up to the West London Derby on Friday. I gathered information into their preparations and thoughts on how they plan to defeat their London rivals. The two teams have already crossed paths this season in the Capital One Cup; first blood went to the cottagers with a 1-0 win. The Bees have won their last three matches and will be looking to get some revenge on their rivals and a victory could see move them joint second in the league.

Moses stated “Fulham are an experienced side as they’ve just come down from the Premier League. But we’ve just come off the back of three straight wins and we feel it’s time to show everyone what we can really do. We know we’re going into this game as underdogs so hopefully people can take credit of Brentford and appreciate what we’re actually doing.”

 

Live Coverage of the Brentford vs Fulham game will be shown from 7:30 on Sky Sports 1

GAFF.TV will be supporting Moses and Co as they battle it out for the crucial three points.