Kay cut out the crisps – now he needs an ego

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward once took the crisps and fizzy drinks out of striker Kayode Odejayi’s diet – now he wants to fill that void with some attitude.

The U’s boss says that one of his earliest memories of the powerful Nigerian-born player was seeing him turn up to training at his former club Cheltenham consuming “a packet of crisps and a bottle of fizzy pop” in his car.

That quickly got cut out, of course, and Odejayi, who had just arrived from non-league club Forest Green Rovers, went on to go as high as the Championship with Barnsley.

Ward and Odejayi have since been reunited at the League One U’s and now the experienced manager wants to have a psychological impact on his forward as well as a nutritional one.

“He’s modest boy and I think he finds it quite surprising that people want to know him,” said the U’s boss. “All of the players here are very planted and Kay is probably the most planted of the lot. In some ways I wish he was a bit more arrogant and a bit more full of himself.

“That’s his character though and I’m probably not going to change that, I’ve learnt that during my career, so I’ve just got to encourage what I can from him.”

He added: “I don’t think he’s ever going to be prolific, but Kay’s the kind that will always have an influence because he takes attention. I asked the Yeovil guys after the game ‘what was your problem with us when you set off’, and they said they played one in front of their two centre-halfs to stop the ball getting to Kayode.

Most Read

“So they’re employing three players to try to stop us getting through Kayode Odejayi. I think that tells you quite a lot.

“Supporters might be thinking Kay might have done better last weekend, but they don’t see that opposition perspective.”

Odejayi, whose unassuming off-field manner is at odds to his imposing physique on the pitch, reacted in a typically modest fashion to the above.

He said: “I don’t know if they were necessarily trying to stop me, I think it was probably more a case of them trying to stop us as a team.

“The manager has always been on to me about having more belief and I always try to be as positive as possible when I go out on to the pitch.

“I am pretty laid back and have never been one to big myself up all the time – that’s just my character and my nature. Maybe that is to my detriment and maybe I should be a bit more arrogant.”

When Ward’s tale of “crisps and fizzy pop” is brought up, a big smile comes across Odejayi’s face before he puts across his version of the story.

“When I was at Cheltenham, John Ward had a nutritionist come in. We all had to fill out a form saying what sort of things we’d been eating and drinking and me, being the honest sort of person I am, was truthful and put down one or two things that perhaps weren’t helping me, shall we say.

“The manager has never let me forget that. Yes I had a few snacks and fizzy drinks, but it wasn’t for breakfast every day as he now likes to make out!

“I obviously don’t eat like that now and look back on that as a learning curve in my career.

“I certainly won’t be stuffing myself with turkey and all the trimmings on Christmas Day. I think we’ll all have to put that off until the summer when hopefully we can celebrate with promotion.”

- For full match preview of Bristol Rovers v Colchester United, see Saturday’s EADT. Tom Williams (groin) is the U’s only fresh injury concern, with Marc Tierney and Andy Bond fit again following hernia operations and David Mooney having recovered from a virus.