I have had the great pleasure of producing an interview with Enoch Showunmi.
In this piece I speak to former football league striker Enoch Showunmi. The London born forward played for his parents country, Nigeria, on two occasions and has many stories to tell. He once played at Wembley, he has featured alongside current England star Jack Grealish and he has had many unfortunate injuries. All of these are delved into, in great detail. We also spoke about his time in Merseyside playing for Tranmere Rovers and his current work venture as founder and CEO of Global Soccer Pathways. I hope you enjoy the read.
Where were you born and in what year?
Born and raised in London to Nigerian parents in 1982.
What were your first experiences of football?
I recall my first experience was playing in a tournament against older kids. I was eight then and I simply just fell in love with the game. From then on, I continuously played when I could.
What football team did you support as a kid?
Liverpool. It was forced on me from my dad. He probably was a glory hunter but I endured the years of frustration where we didn’t manage to win the title (laughs).
What was the first professional club you played for?
My first professional club was Luton Town FC. I turned pro at 21 years old. I was never at a pro academy in my youth. In fact, I was playing 11th tier football prior to signing my first professional contract so it was a culture shock especially playing over christmas and new years. The training everyday, sometimes twice a day in preseason, took its toll on my body.
Who was your biggest help in the early stages of your career?
The biggest help for me really was my support network, my family and friends that believed in my dream also. I do have to give credit, though, to the manager Mike Newell and the circumstances of the club being in administration that allowed me the time to come to terms with everyday football.
As you said, Luton Town was where you signed your first professional contract, what was the club like at that time?
It was tough. I wasn’t getting paid for the first eight months of my time at Luton and most people were telling me to quit. However, I persevered and I’m glad I did as I earnt my first pro contract after scoring a hat trick in a league one game. The circumstances of the club being in administration that allowed me the time to come to terms with the professional game.
Who was the best player that you played alongside during your time at Luton, Bristol City and Leeds?
I played with some great players from Lee Trundle, Curtis Davies, Steve Howard, Robert Snodgrass, Jermaine Beckford and Jonny Howson at those clubs. Most went on to play premier league and international football.
Whilst at Luton, you made two appearances for your parents country of Nigeria. Do you take the most pride in these games more than any others? Was playing on an international level a dream come true?
Playing international football was a dream. At 18 I used to tell my friends that I’d play pro football, I’d play for Nigeria and that Barcelona would bid for me by the time I was 28. I achieved two out of three in the space of a year. I didn’t make the third but you have to dream big to make anything in life. The games were against Ireland and Jamaica. We won both games. We beat Ireland 3-0 and Jamaica 2-0.
Were there any relatively famous faces in the Nigeria team you were in? Who were the games against?
The squad contained Kanu and Okocha who didn’t play but Obafemi Martins made his debut at that time as well. All great players.
You joined Tranmere in 2010, can you remember your first thoughts of the club when you joined? Had you heard about/played against Tranmere before?
I had played against Tranmere quite a few times. I always remember it being a tough place to play. I scored for Leeds United at Prenton Park but we lost 2-1.
What made you sign for Tranmere? What were the facilities like at the club?
The facilities were great and the club gave me a place where I could reastablish my career after having a blood clot on my lungs whilst at Leeds. I went almost a year without playing football regularly. After this big unfortunate break, I played for Falkirk for six months before Tranmere gave me a new lease of life.
You played under Les Parry and Ronnie Moore, what was the biggest difference between the two managers?
Ronnie Moore and Les Parry had different approaches but ultimately the team was young and we would always be towards the lower parts of the table. Whilst Parry was more about being creative in set pieces and video analysis of previous games. Ronnie put his stamp and experience on the team when he came in.
What was your most memorable Tranmere game?
A game I remember, as it was the game we stayed up, is Bournemouth away in my first season. We scored a late winner through Adam Mcgurk and although I was very tired in the last ten minutes I certainly found the energy to celebrate that important goal.
You spent two years at the club, from 2010-2012. However, did you intend to stay for longer?
Yes, I wanted to stay at Tranmere as I enjoyed my time at the club. In my first season I was top scorer and won the player of the season as well as the NW player of the year awards. The second season didn’t go as I planned as I cracked my fibula in the same place three times as I was rushed back from injury. I was told, in 2012, that the club couldn’t afford my wages. However, I would’ve probably signed for less if they had offered it to me.
After Tranmere, you played for Notts County while having loan spells at Torquay and Plymouth Argyle. You soon found yourself playing in the non-league for Wealdstone. Did you enjoy playing in the ‘non league’? Did this make you happy or was it upsetting as you edged towards the end of your career?
I didn’t really play in non-league. Wealdstone reached out as they were a local club to me in London but it wasn’t really me. I had fallen out of love for the game due to various reasons and I was just looking to keep fit and ticking over so I wanted some game time. I had offers from pro clubs but turned them down as I didn’t enjoy the game so I eventually left on my own terms.
You retired from football in 2015, are you enjoying ‘retirement’? What are the things that you enjoy doing?
I am enjoying retirement but the transition is difficult, even for me who had been planning since I was told I may never play football again whilst at Leeds United. It is different but there are so many transferable skills. Travelling for leisure is a big part of my life, there is so much of the world to see and there is so much I want to see.
What is your current work role?
I am now the Founder and the CEO of ‘global soccer pathways’.
What is ‘global soccer pathways’ about?
Global Soccer Pathways is a resource for players that are trying to take their game to the next level. Whether that is elite training, education, and combination of both and mindset/performance coaching. It is my own company and I have partners in Leeds United FC and Leeds Beckett University with the Carnegie International Soccer Academy as well as programs and books that I’ve put together for aspiring players. My email address is – firstname.lastname@example.org
What are your goals now as you set out to make a difference in the ‘beautiful game’?
My goals are to nurture human potential, to be able to help as many players, not just on the field but off the field. There are certain tools I used to be able to have that longevity in the game, despite the obstacles and the circumstances. Unleash Your Soccer Potential – Triple R Blueprint is the first book I’ve written to nurture this element. The tools however can be used in any sport or business or life to be able to achieve a desired outcome.
What is the best memory you have in football? Playing for Nigeria and the earning player of the season award at Tranmere
Who was the best player you had a strike partnership with? Phil Jevons at Bristol City. I mostly played up top on my own during my career. Shout out to Ronan Murray at Notts County too.
Who was the best player that you’ve played with? On pure talent Jack Grealish, he came in on loan to Notts County when I was at the club. His quality was evident.
If you could’ve played in any other position, what would it be? I never played as a striker till I turned pro. I exclusively played midfield. During the first 4/5 years of my career, I played all forward and midfield positions.
What’s the best manager you’ve played under? The one who had the biggest impact on me aside from my start in the game was Steven Pressley at Falkirk
If you weren’t a footballer, what profession would you have? I’d be in the finance business
What’s the best stadium you’ve played at? Wembley, what a place that is to play.
What was your biggest achievement (club/international honour) in football? Going from 11 tier football to international football in under a year.
Thank you very much for reading,