Leyton Orient’s Elliot Omozusi has been nominated for the PFA Player in the Community award for the second year running – Spoughts’ Joe Gleave caught up with defender this week.
Born and bred in Hackney, Elliot Omozusi hails from from London Fields where his family still live, and the 26-year-old feels that it was a good place to grow up.
“It was a good environment to be fair, there was a close community in London Fields. My mum and dad and all my family are from Hackney so it was good being around them.”
His football education began on Hackney Marshes too, where he played Sunday league before joining Fulham at the age of 12. He played 8 games in the Premier League, including one against Manchester United.
“Obviously that was my dream to play at the top level and it was a good experience especially with me being so young at the time. It made all the hard work worth it and I really enjoyed it.”
In 2011 Omozusi’s career took downturn, when he was jailed for intimidating a witness in a murder case. He was released by the O’s but when he came out of prison a year later the club gave him a second chance, a reprieve he is thankful for, especially as he is close to home.
“It was more than I ever could have asked for and I’m very grateful to be here” he said. “One of the reasons I chose Orient was because my mum was ill and passed away, so I wanted to be around my dad and sister.”
Elliot Omozusi narrowly lost out in last year’s PFA Community Player Awards, which acknowledges the contributions of footballers to the community, but he is delighted to be in the running again.
“I would be over the moon if I won, but we don’t do it for the recognition, even though that’s nice too. There’s a lot of footballers up and down the leagues that are doing good work in the community so it’s great to be around the top of that list.”
Recently, he has been helping, Dominic, a young man from Leyton who like Omozusi, has served time. “We meet up twice a month to go out and chat and I’m on call 24/7 if he needs me. He’s really coming through the other side and he’s worked so hard which is really rewarding.”
On the pitch, Omozusi is quietly confident that the O’s can avoid relegation. “We’ve got a lot of hard work to do but I’m quietly confident that we can get little run together and get ourselves out of trouble. We’ve definitely got enough ability and strength to do so.”