- FileBarnsley FC
On the night of Saturday, February 2 at the Madejski stadium in Reading, England , two Kenyans took to the pitch for opposing sides in the English Football League (EFL) Championship, the second tier of English football after the Premier League (PL).
Harambee Stars winger Ayub Masika Timbe came on for Reading in the 70th minute as they faced off with Barnsley, putting up an impressive cameo in his debut following his move from Chinese side Beijing Renhe on January 31, 2020.
A lot of eyes in the stadium, however, were on another Kenyan. 20-year-old Clarke Oduor, a left-back born in Siaya County who has impressed with his appearances for Barnsley drawing widespread acclaim from fans and coaches this season. Reading won 2-0.
Oduor is a highly-rated player who left second-placed Leeds United in August 2019 in search of increased game time despite the club being considered favorites for promotion to the Premier League.Barnsley left-back Clarke Oduor poses at the Oakwell Stadium in England after being unveiled on August 25, 2019Barnsley FC
At the time, Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, a football legend credited as the mentor of, among others, Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola, stated that it was not his wish to see Oduor leave as he was highly talented.
“We had an expectation for Clarke Oduor. He’s a player who can play as a left-back, as a number eight or as a winger. At the same time in the same position, he had in front of him Douglas, Alioski, Davis, Harrison, Costa and Clarke.
“So he would’ve been fighting with these players to play in two positions. The easier thing for me would’ve been to keep the player here. But if I did this it would be because I am only thinking about myself, because I know he has six players in front of him.
“He wanted to take advantage of the opportunity that he had. We have similar young players who are in a similar situation that Oduor was in, but they preferred to continue here. It’s a similar situation but resolved in another way. It’s important for us to know the desire of the player,” he explained.
After a slow start to the season, Oduor proved a hit at Barnsley as his pace and smooth skills left fans in awe.
Oduor spent most of the first half of the 2019/20 season sitting on the bench or missing from the squad entirely before making his debut in a cameo versus Cardiff on December 7, 2019.
Oduor subsequently made several appearances as a substitute before cementing his position as a first-choice fullback for Barnsley in February.
He was voted Player of the Month for January by Barnsley fans and has scooped two Man of the Match (MoTM) awards this season.
Of seven league matches played in February, Oduor has started five and come on for two leaving fans in awe with his talent.
"Clark Oduor absolutely unreal out wide today fella well played! You reds!!" wrote RedTyke on Twitter after Barnsley beat Middlesbrough on February 22.
"Messi has Clarke Oduor pyjamas pass it on," tweeted Liam Fountain.
"Clarke Oduor, Generational Talent!" wrote one Tom Logan.
Having grown up in England, Oduor remains eligible to represent either Kenya or England at senior level.
In the meantime, Kenyan fans hope to see Oduor called up to coach Francis Kimanzi's Harambee Stars squad for the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifying matches against Uganda, Rwanda and Mali.
Watch a video shared by Barnsley showcasing Oduor's eye-catching skills below:
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