The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Ben Baker

HE’S 35 and older than his man­ager, but Jobi McAnuff still has the hunger and de­sire to achieve suc­cess on the pitch.

Af­ter be­ing re­leased by Ley­ton Ori­ent at the end of last sea­son, it looked at one point as though the winger would join Min­nesota United.

But, in­stead of a move to the States, the Ja­maica in­ter­na­tional de­cided that Steve­nage would be the next port of call in a highly-suc­cess­ful ca­reer that has seen him play for Wim­ble­don, West Ham, Cardiff, Crys­tal Palace, Wat­ford and Read­ing.

Af­ter play­ing in the Premier League and in­ter­na­tion­ally against the cream – in­clud­ing Ar­gentina’s Lionel Messi – McAnuff could have lost his hunger, but he had no doubt that Steve­nage was the right move – and he was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with man­ager Darren Sarll, who is 15 months his ju­nior.


“The move came about be­cause of a close friend of mine, Bradley Pritchard,” ex­plained McAnuff. “He was at Ley­ton Ori­ent with me, went out on loan last year to Steve­nage and came back and spoke highly of the club and the setup. “And then, when I got a look at the fa­cil­i­ties, I saw for my­self they are sec­ond to none. They are not just great for a League Two team but also for a team in League One. “And then there is the man­ager, with the am­bi­tion and drive that comes across straight away, even in my first meet­ing with him. I don’t think it’s a sur­prise to any­one who knows him to see how well he is do­ing.

“His pas­sion and de­ter­mi­na­tion is great and he won’t set­tle for any­thing less than the best. I am glad to be able to con­trib­ute to what could be a big sea­son for the club.

“The en­vi­ron­ment at the club and the fa­cil­i­ties are great, and things like that help as you do have to work that lit­tle bit harder off the pitch to stay in good shape when you’re older.

“While I am still do­ing well and en­joy­ing it, I see no rea­son why I should pack it in just yet.”

A bro­ken toe early in his Boro spell meant a stint on the side­lines and a strug­gle to get back in the side once fit.

How­ever, since the calendar flipped to 2017, McAnuff has been in fine form, scor­ing against Exeter last month and again last week­end as un­her­alded Steve­nage beat Portsmouth 3-0 to ce­ment their au­to­matic pro­mo­tion cre­den­tials.


But, while he is hell-bent on adding another pro­mo­tion to his CV this term – he helped Read­ing into the Premier League in 2012 – he can’t help but cast a sad look back at former club Ori­ent who, de­spite sur­viv­ing a windin­gup or­der on Mon­day, are still in huge dan­ger.

“When I went to Ley­ton Ori­ent (in 2014), it was a club full of op­ti­mism and am­bi­tion hav­ing nar­rowly lost in the play-offs the sea­son be­fore,” said McAnuff.

“They were a club look­ing to get into the Cham­pi­onship, but three years later they could be go­ing al­to­gether and it is so sad as it is such a lovely lit­tle club.

“It is a club with great his­tory be­hind it and a real name in foot­ball, so I just hope things can get re­solved as quickly as pos­si­ble so they can go for­ward again.”


EVER­GREEN: Jobi McAnuff cel­e­brates Steve­nage’s third goal against Portsmouth last week and, inset, boss Darren Sarll

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