Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Lloyd longing for Adelaide
As far as first impressions go, Lloyd Owusu couldn't have done much better during an in-house trial at Adelaide United in May. By scoring two goals to give the 'blue' team a 4-3 victory, the former Ghana international striker got the better of goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic and defender Robert Cornthwaite, both sometime Socceroos.
At the age of 32, the physically imposing Owusu certainly isn't looking at his move to the Hyundai A-League as a "holiday in the sun". And, trading pounds sterling for Aussie dollars, it may also mean a pay-cut as he joins Australia's national championship from England's League One.
Turning down a 12-month contract at Brighton Hove Albion where he spent the end of last season on-loan, he has signed for two years with Adelaide United, partly out of curiosity about Australian football and the fast-growing AFC Champions League.
The Reds, who were ACL runners-up in 2008, will rejoin the Asian club showcase next March with Owusu seen as a key figure up-front alongside Brazilian import, Cristiano.
"I feel that the way that we play, Lloyd is certainly going to be able to give something to the team: no question about that," said Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar. "He's very strong in the air and has the ability to hold the ball up and score goals."
Although never playing in England's top flight, Owusu has produced goals wherever he's gone and scored seven times in 14 games to help Brighton make an unlikely escape from relegation last season after moving on-loan from Cheltenham Town.
His other former clubs include Brentford, Sheffield Wednesday, Reading and Yeovil Town. During two spells at Brentford, he notched up the impressive tally of 87 goals in all competitions spread over a decade.
Adelaide provides the stability of a longer contract and an attractive, liveable city with a good climate for Owusu and his young family. He also knows Reds' favourite Paul Reid, from the Aussie midfielder's days with Brighton.
Owusu was born and raised in the much-maligned Berkshire town of Slough, near London - the setting for the popular TV series 'The Office' - but is a proud Ghanaian by heritage. He was twice capped by the west African nation, suffering an untimely groin injury in a World Cup warm-up game against VfB Stuttgart, just six weeks before Germany 2006.
His pedigree is good and he promises to be a "value for money" striker in the mould of ex-Ivorian international Eugene Dadi, another English lower league journeyman who proved to be a great success in his debut season with Perth Glory.
The only thing against Owusu could be his relatively late arrival in South Australia - July 1, ahead of Adelaide's season-opener at home to Perth Glory on August 7 - which has ruled him out of many of the Reds' warm-up games.
But when Owusu spoke to ESPN Soccernet, his mood was upbeat and he vowed to start the upcoming season in style while inspiring some of the junior members of Adelaide's squad.
Q: Lloyd, why have you chosen to continue your football career with Adelaide United?
A: I felt wanted, which I believe every player wants and needs. The whole club, players and staff made my family and I feel really welcome. The chance to play top-flight football was too much of a carrot to turn down. Also the success the club has had over the last few years excited me. And the great weather counts too!
How much did you know about Australian football and the A-League?
Not too much to be fair. But when I heard about the interest in me, I did loads of homework on the club and city.
What do you hope to bring to Adelaide United?
A vast amount of experience and team spirit. My hold up play has got better over the years and scoring goals is my main aim. Also, I'd like to help the youngsters coming through.
You were born in England but represented Ghana. How much of you is British and how much African?
I'm pretty African. Even though I was born in UK I still classify myself Ghanaian.
You seem to score goals wherever you go. What do you consider the best spell of your career?
I love scoring goals. This last season at Brighton would probably be among my best series of goals, but overall Brentford would have to have been my best goal-scoring exploits.
What happened with the injury that kept you out of the World Cup - and what was your reaction as it sank in?
Unfortunately for me, I tore my groin prior to the World Cup. I was gutted when it happened, but sometimes that's life. Luckily for me, I still had the opportunity to go out to Germany and watch a few of the games.
Your hometown is Slough and your first club was Slough Town. How much do people ask you about Slough because of the TV show, 'The Office'?
Ha-ha... Slough is cool. It's my birthplace at the end of the day. All my family are still there and I go back when I can. People always used to ask me about the show, but I'd reply: "Never heard of it!"
• Australian-born Jason Dasey (www.jasondasey.com ) is an international broadcaster, corporate host and media trainer.