Much-travelled striker Lloyd Owusu recently returned to England to link up with League Two Barnet. Footy Matters Rob Fletcher spoke to the 34-year-old about why he swapped the sun of Cyprus for North London.
There aren’t many footballers who would turn their backs on a season of sun, sea and sand in Cyprus for a crack at League Two. But that’s exactly what Lloyd Owusu has done having signed a short-term contract with Barnet just a few days after terminating a deal with Cypriot side Paphos.
Owusu spent the majority of last season with Blue Square Bet Premier promotion contenders Luton, boasting an impressive goalscoring record at Kenilworth Road – a goal every two games. Despite this, he was not offered a new deal and opted to head abroad in search of football.
Everything in the Cypriot garden looked rosy when he signed for Paphos just a couple of months ago, but Lloyd now finds himself plying his trade at Underhill. I spoke to him the day after he made his debut for the Bees, a 2-0 home win against Plymouth.
“I spoke to Lawrie Sanchez (Barnet manager) but the Cypriot side, Paphos, came in and I thought it was pretty fruitful at the time, so I opted to take that on,” explained Lloyd.
“Then all of a sudden the club (Paphos) wanted to go in a different direction, and there were some money issues as well. And I just thought ‘I can’t be dealing with that’, so I got back here as soon as possible.
“I was still in contact with Lawrie, I asked him if he was looking for a centre forward and luckily for myself he was. So I’m here until the middle of January and I just want to get a few games under my belt. If the contract gets extended, fair enough, if not I’ll just look elsewhere.”
AUSSIE ADVENTURE AND GHANA GLORY
Paphos was not Lloyd’s first crack at foreign football, having spent 18 months playing over in Australia with Adelaide. However, he found himself in a spot of bother soon after arriving Down Under in 2009.
“It was great down there and everything was good, but unfortunately I was shot down with swine flu. I was on the back burner from day one and I found myself playing catch-up,” explained Lloyd, who despite his illness could not speak highly enough of the A-League.
“There’s a few international players heading over to those shores. I’ve always said the level is about League One/Championship. It has a slightly different style of play, as they play a lot of 4-3-3, with a lot of build-up from the back and it’s not as dynamic as English football.”
Whilst on the subject of international football, we got on to talking about Ghana – Lloyd winning a handful of caps for the Black Stars.
“They did ever so well at the World Cup last year,” said Lloyd. “The scope of the players that are coming through now – the likes of Asamoah Gyan, Sulley Muntari, John Pantsil and John Mensah - are all really good players.
“Obviously Michael Essien was injured, but they still had all these world-class players.”
Unfortunately, the subject of the World Cup and Ghana also brought up the biggest disappointment in Lloyd’s career.
“About two months before the 2006 World Cup in a warm-up game in Germany I ruptured my groin,” added Lloyd. “That kept me out for the whole campaign, but I got to go out to Germany, watched the boys for about a week, so that was a great experience.
“But it’s a great achievement just to play for your motherland.”
BRENTFORD BEGINNINGS AND STEVE COPPELL
The incident ahead of the 2006 World Cup is one of the few disappointments of his career, with Lloyd always keen to seek out the positives, listing his stint with Brentford amongst his best in football.
“Brentford were the ones who gave me the opportunity to become a professional back in 1998,” added Lloyd. “Winning the league in my first ever professional season, and being top goalscorer, that was a dream come true.”
Having reached double figures in the number of clubs he has represented in a career that is 14-years-old and counting, Lloyd has played with, and for, some of the biggest names in the game.
He rates former Reading boss Steve Coppell among the best he’s worked for, and having played alongside Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari he counts some of the biggest names in world football as former team-mates
“Steve Coppell has always been a great manager for me,” explained Lloyd. “He is such a calm, confident manager and brings out the best in all his players. He is very methodical the way he plans his talks to his teams before they go out to play, which I thought was top drawer.
“With players, on an international level, it would have to be Michael Essien and Steven Appiah, and even Sulley Muntari. On a domestic level, to be fair I’d have to say one of my good mates, Gavin Mahon, when he was at Brentford with me. He is not a household name, but I just thought the whole time we were there, his whole training ethic, his touch and his movement were top class.
“As for players I’ve played against, I’d probably have to say David Ginola was among the best. When I played against him in a cup game. He was a top player, such a classy player.”
But it’s not all about football as Lloyd is known for his DJ-ing skills off the field, skills which he is happy to admit he’s put on temporary hold. That is because Lloyd is a proud father and when he’s not plying his trade on the pitch he likes nothing better than spending time with his daughter Ajaya.
Tags: Barnet, Brentford, Ghana, Interview, Lloyd Owusu, Luton Town, Michael Essien, Paphos, Reading, Steve Coppell