Josh Emmanuel on growing pains, God and gratitude to his parents

Josh Emmanuel on the ball at Old Trafford. Photo: Steve Waller

Josh Emmanuel on the ball at Old Trafford. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town teenage right-back Josh Emmanuel is determined to show his parents their sacrifices were worth it by establishing himself as a first-team player.

A host of injuries meant the 19-year-old was handed his seventh senior start in Tuesday night’s goalless home draw with Brighton and, following an impressive showing, he will get another chance to shine at Portman Road tomorrow against surprise Championship table-toppers Huddersfield.

“I can’t even tell you the amount of sacrifices they’ve made for me over the years,” said the London-born defender, who grew up near Harlow, Essex as an Arsenal fan and started out as a West Ham academy player.

“I had growing pains in both knees when I was younger and West Ham said I had a time period to prove myself. My dad wasn’t really happy with that, so he took me out and I ended up here.

“I’m late in my year, I was born in August, so I was 16 all the way through the first year of my scholarship and couldn’t drive.

“I wasn’t in digs and my parents (Janet and Christopher) used to drive me up from Braintree every day for training, drop me here at 8.30, and then wait around in Ipswich until I’d finished as late as five o’clock.

“To make it would be the big reward for them. That’s my goal, my vision. Hopefully I can bring it to pass. I see this as an opportunity to enhance not only my life but my family’s lives.”

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Meanwhile, the Playford Road academy graduate revealed that Christian faith is the driving force in his life.

“I’m a Christian so I always believe that God is with me so I don’t really get nervous,” he said.

“That’s my life really. I’m thankful that my family have brought me up in a Christian manner. As I got older I started to realise what God actually meant to myself. That’s who I rely on and I take responsibility in making sure that others can try and see what it means.

“Obviously it’s hard, because faith is different for everyone, but it’s just something I hope to keep pushing forward really.”

The teenager has Nigerian parents and his middle name ‘Oluwadurotimi’ means ‘the Lord waits with me’.

“Emmanuel means ‘God with us’ too,” explained the youngster. “I know God is helping me in all that I do and that he’s favouring me, so I just need to stay focussed.

“Whenever we are not in training on Sundays I am at my church in the Docklands, Canary Wharf with my family.

“The main thing is just to believe, really, and have faith. It’s just being open to something.

“The biggest sacrifice is staying in faith when things aren’t going the way you want them to. It’s about knowing God is in control.”

Emmanuel has now made seven first-team starts, including a League Cup tie against Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and co at Old Trafford last season.

“That was amazing, a great experience” he said. “I was a bit disappointed that Memphis (Depay) wasn’t playing to be fair! That would have been a good test.”

He continued: “I’m just trying to improve in every training session and perform whenever I get the opportunity.

“Every day you can pick up new tips and new ideas, but it’s about driving forwards with your own style.”