|Posted by Ravit Anand on August 14, 2012 at 7:00 PM|
At the age of 19, Kudus Oyenuga finds himself at a crucial stage of his development and career.
After spending three years with the Tottenham Hotspur youth set-up, Oyenuga was released by the Premier League club at the end of the 2011/12 season after spending the campaign on loan with Rochdale and St Johnstone.
As is the case with many footballers of Oyenuga’s age, they are faced with two decisions; do they react or crumble under the disappointment of being released from a professional club.
The teenager has reacted to take matters into his own hands and prove, not to others, but himself that he has the capability to make it at the highest level.
“I never think I have a point to prove to people, I want to prove a point to myself that’s the main thing.
"Obviously people can doubt you or rate you but all it comes down to is yourself so I want to prove myself a point that I’m a good player and I think I can play at a high level.”
It’s a cliché, but quite often true that football is a game of opinions. One manager may consider you not a part of his plans or believe you’re able to make the step up.
Whereas another manager has a different take and a willingness to put trust into a player’s hands, and feet.
“Opinions are not facts, you take them and you let them go.
"Not everyone’s opinion is true, someone could say you’re not a good player but they could end up in two years’ time playing in the Premier League and I’m sure it’s happened many times.
“I’ve just to work hard and hopefully I’ll get there, I always say that the cream always rises so if you work hard you’ll get there.”
Oyenuga has signed for Conference South outfit Hayes and Yeading who start the 2012/13 campaign in the sixth tier of English football.
The youngster has pinpointed manager Nas Bashir as the pivotal factor in deciding to join the club, as he looks to repay the faith instilled in him by the former Reading Assistant Academy Manager.
“Nas really swayed my decision coming here and I could have gone on a few trials at other clubs. It’s a risk coming down here because you never know what can happen but I know if I play games I can do well.
“That swayed me to come down here because I want to be playing week in, week out and that can only improve you as a player. I’m 19 years old so I’ve still got lots of time on my hands.”
Like many players in Oyenuga’s position, coming out of the professional game and dropping into non-league football and, in essence, becoming semi-professional can be difficult to adapt to.
But the pacey striker doesn’t think of it in that way:
“I still think I’m a professional; I still take everything as being a professional.
"I can’t let my standards go down; we train Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays so it’s really a professional club anyway.
“When the season starts there are two games a week, Tuesday and Saturday. Really and truly you’re playing week in, week out and I still think I am if I train and have the mentality to be professional.
“I’ve come from Spurs working with good coaches like Chris Ramsey, Tim Sherwood and John McDermot who have taught me from when I was young to be professional so I’ve got to take that into wherever I go next.”
Although a sport loved by millions, football is a job for players and a business to those in the hierarchy.
While many may suggest that youth are not given a fair crack of the whip and opportunities at first-team level, Oyenuga accepts it’s just part and parcel of the game and doesn’t believe youth are disposed of at a high rate:
“Not necessarily, football’s a cut throat industry and opinions are not facts.
“Sometimes it spurs people on to do well, I know a lot of people who think ‘I got released from Spurs, I’ve left this club, I’ve left this club I’ll just give up’ but that’s not in my nature and I still think I’ve got lots to prove.
“I could have gone on trials to higher clubs but I know if I play games I know what I can do; my plan in the next two years is to be playing higher.
Oyenuga knows this season is crucial in his development and career and while his path to get to where he wants to be has taken a different turn, he remains convinced he will get to where he wants to be.
“That’s what life is like sometimes, you have to go down to go back up two or three steps. I’m sure everything will pan out well.”
Writen by Ravit Anand - @RavitAnand