Olumide is in determined mood ahead of Bairns bow

Scott Olumide Durojaiye and Gary Holt. The head coach and 'Ollie' were at Norwich City together. Pic by Michael Gillen
Scott Olumide Durojaiye and Gary Holt. The head coach and 'Ollie' were at Norwich City together. Pic by Michael Gillen
0
Have your say

New midfielder Scott Olumide Durojaiye has taken the long way round in arriving at Falkirk.

New midfielder Scott 
Olumide Durojaiye has taken the long way round in arriving at Falkirk.

The 20-year-old was a teenage prodigy at Tottenham, playing reserve team football in the Premier League aged just 14.

But the disappointment of missing out on a professional contract at White Hart Lane knocked the Nigerian under-20 development player’s confidence and led to a year out of football.

Yet he battled back, earning a contract at Norwich and showing a resilience that impressed then Canaries coach Gary Holt to coach him back to the top level and then bring him north to Falkirk.

Now, ‘Ollie’ as he has been called in the dressing room, is determined never to feel so low again by sealing his chance at Falkirk and repaying his manager’s faith in him.

“I was at Tottenham from seven until YTS at 18,” he told The Falkirk Herald. “Then, when it came to contracts I didn’t get anything and I had a year out of football.

“I did nothing, I was really low. I dropped down to League Two at AFC Wimbledon and played in their reserves for a couple of months – and I got player of the season, even after two months. We won a couple of tournaments there and that was the build-up to me going to Norwich

“I had to cross a barrier mentally to get over the disappointment from Tottenham and I found myself at Norwich – they gave me the chance to get back into football.

“My lead-up to where I am now has been a long one because I was the main man at Tottenham at a very young age, playing reserve football at age 14 and 15, then having a year out and then getting really strong mentally and coming back into it and I’m here at Falkirk now. It’s a very long way round.”

From those experiences, Durojaiye has developed a determination and a mental toughness he now wants to take onto the pitch. It’s an attribute that Gary Holt is relishing seeing in the first team too.

“I want players here who are hungry and want to play football, and he’s certainly that,” said the Bairns head coach. “He has settled in well and he’s seemed to be enjoying it – I told him he’ll play football here. It’s an opportunity for him to showcase his talents and we’ll benefit from him doing that.”

‘Ollie’ thinks he can benefit in Falkirk too. Old friends from Spurs – Callum Tapping and Zaine Francis-Angol – are flourishing in Scottish football, Francis-Angol even earning an international call-up, and the change of scenery is a plus-point for the midfielder, who still has the pair of familiar faces.

“Gary Holt wasn’t my manager, but we got on really well and he helped me quite a bit in terms of my positioning on the pitch and what he demanded; aggression, getting in people’s faces, helping young players, putting my arm round them and helping them through, and I really respect him and thank him so much for this opportunity.

“I owe everything to him, he called me up and my first thought was it’s an opportunity to start afresh, where no-one knows you and you can get your head down away from friends, family and focus purely on football.

“You can’t have an alternative, I am single minded and determined to make it. I put my family through a hard time when I was so low, in my downbeat state, and I thank them for their help getting me out of it and getting me where I am today. I feel more mentally strong – I am tougher, I’m not beaten easily.”

Now, he’s relishing his first game in a Falkirk shirt, at Lesser Hampden on Saturday and proving what he can do.

“I’m strong, good on the ball, I break things down, cover, recover and get forward from time to time.

“The whole close-season break and pre-season I’ve been focused on pulling on the Falkirk top in a game and showing everyone what I can do.”