Nathan Oduwa once lit up Scottish football with an outrageous rainbow flick and looked set for a career right at the top of the game.
Now, the former Peterborough United loanee is making the seventh permanent move of his career, but it will not catch the headlines. Still only 27, the former England youth international has signed a deal with South Korean second-tier side Chungbuk Cheongju. He’s penned a six-month deal after leaving Azerbaijan’s Turan Tovuz in June.
Oduwa came through the Spurs youth ranks, appearing for England and under-17, 18 and 20 levels. He had a loan spell with Luton Town when they were a League Two side, but caught the eye up in Scotland. Late on in a 5-1 win against Alloa, he performed an audacious rainbow flick, which drew criticism.
“To be honest, he lost a bit of confidence,” confirmed then-Rangers striker Martyn Waghorn. “There was one game when he did a rainbow flick and he got a lot of stick for that from the press around Scotland. That affected him. Afterwards, he was a bit more reluctant to showcase what he could do.”
After appearing 19 times for Rangers, providing five assists and one goal, he was loaned to Colchester in League Two, but only appeared twice as a sub. Then came his stint at London Road, a six-month stay in League One. Under Grant McCann, he did get football, but only sporadic, late appearances as a sub. His loan wasn’t extended in January, and he returned to Spurs.
He left North London at the end of the season and has since had a nomadic career. He was a winner of the Slovenian Prva League with Olimpija Ljubljana 2018, playing 18 times and scoring once, but that’s been the most regular football he has enjoyed since.
Nomadic describes his later career, with spells in Denmark (Vejle Boldklub), Israel (Hapoel Hadera), Ireland (Dundalk) and Azerbaijan (Shamakhi and Turan Tovuz). He played Champions League football for Dundalk but now finds himself in Korea’s second division, with a club who were founded five years after he was born.
In his youth, Oduwa was ungainly, but so skilful. He had the flicks and tricks and played without fear. That fateful game against Alloa cut that talent down at the knees, and after he appeared to be holding back, playing things simple. That was never his game.
Without being derogatory, he shouldn’t be in the Korean second tier. At 27 he should still be in England, even if it is in the lower divisions. He’s still got a bit of pace and those tricks and flicks never leave you, but he’s a cautionary tale to young players going out on loan; it can make or break you.
At one of the biggest clubs in Europe (Rangers, not Spurs, obviously), it broke Nathan Oduwa. Posh fans will testify to that.