In recent years the number of English footballers going abroad to enhance their career is something which has grown and is continuing to do so. The likes of Jadon Sancho have decided to take the leap of faith and jet off to where first-team minutes and increased opportunities can be found. Another to do just that is 21-year-old Daniel Olaoye, who has just finished a season with Swedish fourth tier side Nordvärmland, having already played in Greece.
Olaoye is a tricky winger who also likes to chip in with goals. When asked to describe himself as a player he said: “I would say that my style of play is like someone like Neymar, Ronaldo or someone like that because I’m a dribbler. I like taking the mick out of players. I can work on things, but I think my style of play can be based on both of the players and they’re most related to the position I play in. I think watching them as well as Alexis Sanchez has helped to improve my game.”
The youngster has represented three different clubs abroad, but his footballing education came in England, as he explained: “I started when I was in primary and it all really started with the David Beckham Academy with people who were two years above me. Then I ended up coming out of that with the gold medal from our team, so that was a good moment from back then.
“I went to play Sunday League football with Junior Hammers, won both the league and cup once. Then after that I moved on with a coach I knew from before, Lester Thomas who brought me to Elite Pro as an Under 16, which was good for my development as there was a lot of ex academy players there. We played against the likes of Reading and Sheffield United and I had interest from Sheffield when I was 16, interest from Reading as well, I went there for two weeks but things didn’t work out, but that time was a good stage in my development.”
Olaoye also had his first of men’s football in England, as he played for Newham United in the Essex Senior League for one season, scoring 22 goals in 35 games. It was after this campaign that the winger went abroad alongside his twin brother David -who now plies his trade with El Porvenir, becoming the first ever Englishman to sign a professional contract with an Argentinian club- to play for Greek side OFI Creta, joining their Under 20s side.
He found himself playing against the likes of Olympiacos and Panathinaikos, but there was one thing that was difficult to adapt to for Olaoye: “In my first three training sessions it was about 35 degrees, touching 40 and I was struggling with the heat, but as I slowly got into it I could manage the high temperatures. Picking up the language wasn’t a problem. I still know a bit of Greek, so if I was to go back there now I could easily have a conversation with someone.”
The winger then moved to AO Tympakiou in 2016 for his first taste of men’s football abroad: “OFI was under 20s which is still teenagers, but Tympakiou was men’s football. That was the fourth tier of Greek football so that was a lot more challenging than both the under 20 and Essex Senior football. That was my first real challenge to be honest.
“The coach really liked me at first, but I then had an ankle injury that left me out for three months. I wasn’t getting any game time in that period then I had another injury and returned to England. My time there was fine, but if it hadn’t been for the injuries I would have been able to score more goals and have a greater impact on the team and helped them get a higher position in the league, but it happened.”
This injury ended up helping him decide his next move, as he went to Sweden to play for Nordvärmland: “There was an agent who knew I’d had an injury in Greece and missed so many games because of it, so instead of waiting for a preseason to start in August or September, we thought it would be a good idea to go to Sweden because their season starts in April. So I could then have a preseason to get games and get the minutes I hadn’t in Greece due to my injury. So I thought that was a good idea and accepted the offer for the season.”
The club finished 9th in the league, but there was once again frustrations for Olaoye, although there were also some encouraging signs: “When you take into account that I wasn’t starting games at times and had periods where I was coming on for 15 or 25 minutes every game. I ended the season with 14 games and seven goals with four assists. In terms of stats I’d say my season went well but in terms of playing time I wish I’d got more than I did, but that happens in football.”
With another season over for Daniel Olaoye he has time to think about the future and he dreams of playing in a return home, as he said: “My aim for the near future is to play in either the Conference, League One or League Two. That would be a good start because I think getting games at that level can be very good for your career and be a good stepping stone.
“My big goal is to play in the Premier League and Champions League, which I believe I can do but I just need a chance. I’ve got no rush, I want to slowly move to the top.”