At 19 it is fair to say this man has already experienced many of lives ups and downs on his journey to becoming a professional footballer. Whether it be, initially getting turned away by the Nike Academy and having to return home to studying. A chance trial at Nottingham Forest, or winning a place at the prestigious Nike set up before ultimately signing professional terms at a Premier League club tested the teenagers drive and mentality.
Taofiq Olomowewe’s level-headedness and farsighted views shine through when talking on the prospect of loan moves and how crucial it is to respond positively in the face of adversity.
The London born centre back has now been at Burnley for nine months and with his tenacity to keep improving I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear of him…
To people who’ll want to get to know how you play what would you say your biggest attribute is?
I would have to say my athleticism, my presence on the football pitch obviously being six foot three and playing at centre back I feel these are my biggest attributes.
And biggest area to improve?
I’m just trying to improve my whole game. I wouldn’t say there was one area. However I work on my defending first and full most I always want to be a better defender. So (it’s everything from) heading, clean contact on the ball, organizing the midfield in front of me just my overall game.
What is your personal goal for the second half of the season?
I don’t set goals like that, because when you set targets that are so bold I’d rather keep them to myself. There’s nothing I’ve really set like I want 10 goals or keep five clean sheets because if you put it out there, people might say you’ve underachieved, when you haven’t.
Would you consider going out on loan for a few months/next season?
You don’t always have to go on a loan because sometimes where you are is the best place to be. Firstly, a club would have to be interested in taking me on and then I would have to assess if at that club I’m going to play. There’s no point just going to sit on the bench, to not be in squads. I don’t really think about those things. If it comes it comes if it doesn’t it doesn’t.
What position did you play as a kid?
When I was younger and playing Sunday league I played striker, I played right wing, I played right back, centre back when you’re young you play everywhere. It was only when you get to academy level that you find a position and my position was centre half.
What advice would you give to the new intake of players at the Nike Academy?
Be patient. There is a timing for everything I believe in God’s timing is the best timing. One good game, one good performance and you get a trial you’ve got to be ready. It’s about patience but it’s about always being ready to take the opportunity.
How did you get picked up and how has your time at the Academy has helped you?
At the time it was massive for me because playing school boy category three football this was the second chance. When I was younger and getting released I had nowhere to go. It was winning the UK trial with Sean Clare (now at Sheffield Wednesday) that I got chosen. It was actually Sean that got in first time around, I didn’t get in first time.
I had to go back to college. I went from the high of winning the UK trial and representing at the global competition to not winning it wasn’t a nice time.
But luckily from that trial I got spotted by Nottingham Forest and from there I got a call from the Nike Academy to say they wanted to sign me. I was there for 10-11 months training at St. George’s Park with the best facilities playing against the best clubs.
It was a big, big learning curve for me. It kept you hungry because you weren’t there (a professional) yet.