Razak Omotoyossi: A gamble worth taking for Blackpool boss Holloway

Short-tempered. Volatile. But supremely gifted.

Short-tempered. Volatile. But supremely gifted.

That's what Blackpool are gambling with by taking on Razak Omotoyossi. The Benin international striker has joined the Premiership new-boys on a ten-day trial and the invitation could potentially be a stroke of genius by manager Ian Holloway.

Though only 24, Omotoyossi's career has been a catalog of clashes and blow-ups with management, federations - and even his own fans. But coaches have continued to take a punt on him and when he does find himself in the right environment, Omotoyossi will deliver - as his 16 goals in just 37 appearances for Benin testify.

It was Benin that actually rescued Lagos-born Omotoyossi's career. Accusations that he assaulted a referee while playing for Nigeria's Sunshine Stars saw the local FA slap a five-year ban on the teenager. Upset by the ruling, Omotoyossi pledged his international future to Benin and was capped before video evidence proved he was nowhere near the match official when the assault took place.

For all their depth, the Nigeria FA must rue the decision. In 28 competitive games with Benin, Omotoyossi has scored 14 goals and finished joint top scorer with Inter Milan star Samuel Eto'o for the last African Nations Cup qualifying campaign.

The highs and lows of his fledgling international career is mirrored at club level. Success with Helsingborgs in Sweden, playing alongside Henrik Larsson, also was littered by blow-ups with management and fans.

A prank by Helsingborgs supporters advertising his sale did not go down well with Omotoyossi, who declared at the time: "If that's the case, then you reporters can write I have played my last game for the club."

And that wasn't the only time he threatened to quit Helsingborgs.

A blow-up with former coach Bosse Nilsson after he was hooked in a game against Trelleborg led to Omotoyossi again declaring: "You can write that this is the last game I play for this team!

"I want to go. I want to go. I've said it to the team, I've said it to everyone. I don't want to play with such pressure anymore."

The then-Helsingborgs sports director Jesper Jansson admitted Omotoyossi was isolating himself from the rest of the squad, refusing to celebrate victories.

"He is a bit hot tempered," admitted Jansson at the time.

Eventually, Omotoyossi, after turning down a multi-million dollar move to Groningen, signed a lucrative deal with Al-Nassr, but lasted less than 12 months in Saudi Arabia and returned to Europe at Metz.

But even with the French Second Division club, Omotoyossi has invited trouble, going AWOL this summer and forcing Metz management to withdraw his wages. The striker went missing for the first three weeks of preseason training before Metz confirmed Blackpool's offer for trials.

If he impresses, Holloway will find little trouble with Metz in doing business. The French club are desperate to clear Omotoyossi's big wages off their books.

The African could prove to be a career-defining signing by Holloway. Blessed with furious pace and a powerful physique, Omotoyossi's qualities are tailor-made for a team that will be relying heavily on counter attacks and individual inspiration to keep them competitive on their Premiership debut.

"It's true, I'm fast," says Omotoyossi, "but as I've played in different competitions in Europe, I've learned to adjust my runs to suit different styles. But, yes, I am quick.

"I do not know how quick I am. I've never been measured, but usually I'm pretty fast when compared to my opponents.

"Yes, it's funny. When I was younger, everyone said that I could never become a good soccer player because I was too fat and too short. But I was not fat, I only had plenty of muscles. When I grew, I was able to sprint very quickly."

It was this explosive pace and individual flair that first helped Omotoyossi introduce himself to Europe's scouts at the 2005 U20 World Championships in Holland. For Benin, he was simply electric. It was the tournament of Lionel Messi and John Obi Mikel, but Omotoyossi's performances did not pale in comparison.

It's now five years on, but as he proved at Helsingborgs - and continues to do so for Benin - he will deliver exciting performances when in the mood.

For all the baggage, this writer hopes if Holloway sees something in Omotoyossi, he'll take the gamble.

As a free transfer, at 24 years of age, if the Blackpool manager can somehow find what makes Omotoyossi happy, he'll have a genuine world-beater on his hands.

Omotoyossi would put Blackpool on the football map: a player who would draw interest from across Africa and the rest of the world to Bloomfield Road - and is potentially a talent capable of keeping the Seasiders up next season.

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