‘Colchester United is the right club for me’ – Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe
PUBLISHED: 06:00 05 January 2018
Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe has taken the Bostik North by storm this season, and now he is setting his sights on the dizzy heights of League Two with his new club Colchester United.
Front-runner Ogedi-Uzokwe took the plunge to sign for the U’s this week, on an 18-month deal, after plundering 34 goals in as many games for Maldon & Tiptree in Step Four of non-league, equating to the eighth tier of the football pyramid.
It is a big jump up to the Football League, for Ogedi-Uzokwe, but the 23-year-old is ready to embrace the challenge over the weeks, months and hopefully years to come.
“It’s all new to me, and I’m looking forward to it,” enthused Ogedi-Uzokwe, following yesterday’s training session at Florence Park in Tiptree.
He continued: “It’s a fresh start for me, and I’m ready for the challenge that lies ahead.
“There was quite a bit of interest in me from elsewhere, but I think that Colchester United is the right club for me.
“They have a reputation for progressing the careers of young players, over the years, and I believe that five of the current regular starting XI are players from the Academy, which is a good sign.
“So I feel this is a very good opportunity for me.”
Ogedi-Uzokwe was referring to the quintet of Kane Vincent-Young, Frankie Kent, Tom Lapslie, Drey Wright and Sammie Szmodics, all Academy products who have been regulars during the U’s current fine run of just two defeats in 17 league games.
Despite his still tender years, Nigerian striker Ogedi-Uzokwe has already enjoyed a varied career, featuring an extended spell in Cyprus as well as turning out for a number of English non-league clubs.
But now he is looking to settle down.
“As regards senior football, I started out at Aveley as an 18-year-old, when Justin Gardner was the manager,” explained Ogedi-Uzokwe.
“I played a few games there, but was then loaned out because this was my first taste of men’s football. That was all new to me.
“I moved to Nottingham and so played up there for a while, before coming back to play for Hayes & Yeading, although it didn’t really work out for me there following a change of manager.
“I had a short spell at Lewes, and then my mentor told me about a possible move to Cyprus, which is where I went for one-and-a-half years with Turk Ocagi Limasol.
“That was a good experience and we won the Cypriot Cup.
“Limasol wanted me to go back out there, but instead I decided to try my luck at Maldon & Tiptree because I wanted to stay in England.
“It was Justin (Gardner) and my mentor who told me about the opportunity at Maldon, suggesting that I should go there to get some games under my belt and to score some goals.
“And I’ve had a great first half of the season with Maldon. The manager (Kevin Horlock) has made it very easy for me.
“In fact, I’m almost speechless with how well it has gone for me. I’ve been the only real striker in the team, so everything has really come through me. That has helped me to score so many goals.
“I have been playing in a good team, and I won’t be surprised if Maldon stay up there (currently third in the Bostik North table) for the rest of the season.”
A youth teamer at Leyton Orient, Ilford and Millwall, Ogedi-Uzokwe’s long list of non-league clubs included Carlton Town, Enfield Town, Hayes & Yeading, Barkingside and Lewes before his move out to Cyprus and his subsequent half-season with the Jammers.
“Hopefully I have found a more permanent home at Colchester. I’d like to settle down now,” insisted Ogedi-Uzowke.
“I’ve been coming across to train with the Colchester lads, so its been quite easy to fit in. I haven’t had a day job as such, its just been a case of travelling with Kevin (Horlock) to come and train as much as I can.
“As for how easy it will be, coming from Maldon, I don’t know, but I do know that I need to get fitter and that I need to get stronger.
“I’ve got to improve in training, and show that I am hungry to play and that I am hungry for success.
“I know full well that I won’t just go straight into the squad. I will have to do well to play.”
Also arriving from Maldon & Tiptree on Wednesday was Ryan Gondoh, a left-sided specialist. He will be eligible to play for the under-23s.
Meanwhile, the U’s will look to continue their fine recent run when they entertain Cheltenham Town tomorrow. The U’s are just one point and one place adrift of the play-offs.