RANGERS loan recruit from Tottenham Hotspur, Nathan Oduwa, was sold on a move to Ibrox when he watched the club’s win over St Mirren last Friday and could hardly see an empty seat in the 50,000-capacity stadium.
It is the 19-year-old’s intention to perform in such a manner that causes those same seats to be vacated regularly…but momentarily.
“I’m very tricky, and have a lot of pace, as many people have been saying about me. I’ll bring a lot of entertainment. I’ll get the Rangers fans on their feet quite often,” said the teenager in a gently confident manner when asked what fans on the Championship side could expect of him.
“I just want to give 100 per cent for Rangers, make sure they have a successful season and get back to the top flight. I will give the fans something to shout out about, I will work my socks off and I will score them goals and make goals,” Oduwa offered later on same theme.
It is unlikely that Oduwa will be involved as Rangers visit the Indodrill Stadium for their encounter with part-time Alloa this lunchtime. These assignments are not why the attacker has been enticed to Ibrox by Mark Warburton, frankly.
The Rangers manager maintains that Spurs trusted him with Oduwa, and fellow loanee Nathan Ball, because the size of the Ibrox club – as illustrated by them drawing that incredible sell-out crowd for their league opener – provides the pair with an environment to prepare them for the demands of the London club that few teams in the country could rival.
Oduwa’s excitement at getting the chance to play for a club whose support numbers left him “blown away” can also in part be attributed to his last experience of senior league football away from his permanent home. The attacker, who Warburton said can play anywhere across the attacking line from numbers “seven, eight, 10 to 11”, was on loan with English fourth-tier side Luton Town.
“It was a very good experience,” Oduwa said, three starts and eight substitute appearances yielding no goals for him for the Hatters. “The style of football was different. It was quite physical and it wasn’t very technical but I learned mentally that you have to give your all. The fans were working hard every day to come and watch us put in a performance.
“If we don’t give it to them they’ll be unhappy. Luton are a big club at that level. There was a lot of pressure on the manager [John Still], especially when we lost eight games out of nine. That was a real eye-opener for me – seeing how the fans were getting on to us because we weren’t performing at the level we should have been for a club of that stature.”
If that sound familiar, less familiar to Oduwa were the opportunities handed to him by Mauricio Pochettino in the summer. The forward was a hit on YouTube after a screamer he scored in Ledley King’s testimonial last May. But he takes great pride in more recent scoring exploits at senior level.
“I was with the first-team during pre-season and Mark watched me playing a behind-closed-doors game against Brentford for them and he saw me score one and set up two.
“I also played behind-closed-doors friendlies against Southend and Reading.
“After that I went back down to the 21s but I thanked Pocchettino for being able to play for the first team and I used that experience when I went back to play down with the 21s. Southend, Brentford and Reading and after that I went back down to the 21s. He was encouraging. He just told me to keep going and that I’ve done really well. He said he liked what he’d seen. I want to use that experience here.”
Warburton has form when it comes to giving promising youngsters a step-up with under-21 England midfielder Alex Pritchard. He is now vying for first-team football at White Hart Lane after spending last season under Warburton’s charge at Brentford.
“I was speaking to Alex when he was at Brentford and he was saying he [Warburton] allows his players to have ultimate freedom, give 100 per cent and just express themselves,” Oduwa said. “That’s all you’re looking for as an attacker.
“You want a manager to allow you to express yourself and do what you do in the right areas. That’s what Mark gives me. It really helped Alex’s development. Alex Pritchard is a wonderful player but last season he went to another level and deserves the chance he’s now getting with the first team.” Oduwa wants the chance to have mass ranks of supporters expressing themselves.