Player Profile: Kayode Odejayi
Full Name: Olukayode Ishmael Odejayi
Squad Number: 9
Date of Birth: February 21st 1982
Place of Birth: Ibadan, Nigeria
Kayode Odejayi began his footballing career as a trainee at Bristol City in 1999 making 6 first team appearances, all as a substitute.
In 2002 Odejayi secured a move to non-league Forest Green Rovers after a loan spell and made 38 appearances scoring a decent 13 goals. This caught the attention of erstwhile Cheltenham Town manager Bobby Gould who snapped up the young striker for a meagre £5000.
Odejayi spent four seasons at Cheltenham, culminating in a play-off final victory and then a full season in League 1. He managed 30 goals from his 148 appearances.
In the summer of 2007 as Simon Davey prepared his own squad for his first full season in charge, he paid Cheltenham Town £200,000 for the big Nigerian. Odejayi has made a total of 71 appearances for the Reds in his two seasons at the club, netting just 8 goals including the winner at Oakwell in the 1-0 defeat of Chelsea in the F.A. Cup Quarter Final 2008, booking Barnsley's place at Wembley to play Cardiff City in the Semi-Final.
He could be remembered for the goal he scored. A header from erstwhile Cheltenham team-mate Martin Devaney's cross in the 66th minute, but instead the negativity of football fans points to the glaring miss at Wembley in the following F.A. Cup match, when the pacey striker ran through a huge gap in the oppositions defence to latch on to a Brian Howard pass, giving himself only Peter Enckelman to beat, but blasted wide of the near post, to the dismay of 25,000 Barnsley fans and evidently himself.
That miss didn't come out of the blue for Kayode. Barnsley fans probably weren't backing him to put the chance away after the season he had had so far, being booed off the pitch after a couple of misses at home to Southampton.
As I sat watching a youtube video of Odejayi's goals at Cheltenham, including a superb combination between him and Martin Devaney, I found myself wondering what happened to this beast of a striker? He used to tower above entire back-lines to nod in a free kick or a corner. He would tear through the heart of a defence leaving defenders prostrate in his wake before crashing home a goal and beating his chest with one fist.
Good footballers do not turn bad overnight nor indeed over the course of a season. Here is a man who's confidence is lower than Flo Rida and T-Pain would care to mention and it can only be outside factors contributing to it. What he needs is some belief from his team mates, coach and supporters. He would appear to have everything but the latter, as Barnsley fans become increasingly frustrated with his lack of composure in front of goal it becomes a vicious circle where he gets himself into amazing positions but will miss because the fans expect him to. No-one holds their breath when he bears down on goal. They're already jeering.
In front of minimal crowds however he seems to have found new confidence, netting a goal in each game so far in pre-season.