BABY TA­MARA PER­FECT FOR DAD MAG­NUS

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Frank Smith

THE life of a foot­baller side­lined by se­ri­ous in­jury can be a very dark place, but for Mag­nus Okuong­hae 2015 has still been one of his best years to date fol­low­ing the ar­rival of his daugh­ter.

Hav­ing to leave the club he loves, Colch­ester United, af­ter six years and be­ing laid up for more than seven months fol­low­ing a rup­tured Achilles means it has been a dif­fi­cult year for the cen­tre-back.

Re­hab

But, in Jan­uary, baby Ta­mara en­tered Okuong­hae’s life and played a big part in his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion as she helped keep his spir­its high.

Okuong­hae had gone un­der the knife two months ear­lier and missed the re­main­der of the 2014-15 cam­paign. And, with Colch­ester re­duc­ing their wage bill and putting more em­pha­sis on youth, their cap­tain was not of­fered a new con­tract and faced an un­cer­tain sum­mer.

But de­spite still not be­ing fully fit, Okuong­hae had sev­eral con­tract of­fers and ended up sign­ing a two-year deal with Lu­ton Town in July.

“Colch­ester were not do­ing un­be­liev­ably well dur­ing the time I was in­jured and it was so frus­trat­ing that I couldn’t be out there try­ing to do my bit for the cause,” said Okuong­hae.

“But my daugh­ter was a wel­come dis­trac­tion for me. It meant I could be there for the birth of my child and I have been able to bond with her over the early months which you don’t usu­ally get the chance to do as a fa­ther, so it was def­i­nitely pos­i­tive.

“The in­jury was up­set­ting and frus­trat­ing but it has still been a bril­liant year.”

The 29-year-old was not in a po­si­tion to chal­lenge for a start­ing place at the be­gin­ning of the cam­paign and was lim­ited to just two out­ings in the John­stone’s Paint Tro­phy for his new club.

So he spoke to man­ager John Still about the need to se­cure more game time as he stepped up his come­back and, a cou­ple of days later, Lu­ton re­ceived a call from Hartle­pool United.

Come­back

It was agreed Okuong­hae could join the fel­low League Two side on a one-month loan on Oc­to­ber 16 and he has played the full 90 min­utes in all three of Pools’ games since join­ing prior to this week­end.

“I needed to play games be­cause I knew the frus­tra­tion would be­come too much for me if I didn’t be­cause of the time that I had out al­ready,” he added.

“In my head, it is about get­ting games and go­ing back to Lu­ton to chal­lenge to play in that team be­cause I am a con­fi­dent in­di­vid­ual and I know I am good enough to play in that team – and in League One – from play­ing at Colch­ester for six years. For now, I am just con­cen­trat­ing on help­ing Hartle­pool as much as I can.”

PROUD FA­THER: Mag­nus Okuong­hae and daugh­ter Ta­mara

BACK PLAY­ING: Mag­nus Okuong hae is on loan at Hartle­pool

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