"His pace is frightening": Who is teenage Sheffield Wednesday trialist Jesarun Uchegbulam?
A new name featured on the Sheffield Wednesday under-23s teamsheet on Monday as unknown trialist Jesarun Uchegbulam made his Owls debut.
The pacey winger was a surprise inclusion on the flank in a 3-1 defeat to local rivals Barnsley – their fourth in five games. But who is he, what sort of player is he and what makes him tick? We asked two people that know him best for the inside track.
Dave Wild is Uchegbulam’s manager at Mossley FC, where he is currently signed, and Rob York is chairman at Stockport Town, where he first played competitive football in this country three years ago.
Profile – who is Jesarun Uchegbulam?
Born in Nigeria, Uchegbulam grew up in Italy until his mid-teenage years, when he moved to the UK with his family. Now 19, he is currently on an indefinite trial with Sheffield Wednesday and made his debut for the club’s under-23 side against Barnsley on Monday.
A natural wide man blessed with pace and an eye for goal, the teenager has risen through the ranks in non-league football and is now being considered by Steve Haslam’s academy set-up.
Who has he played for over here?
As a child Uchegbulam represented AC Milan at youth level, though The Star understands this was only up until the age of nine.
When he moved to England he signed with Stockport Town having impressed on the Coaching Connections BTEC course he was studying for and aged 16 was thrown straight into the first team at the level ten club, making an impact right away. Last year he signed for level eight Mossley AFC.
In the past year he has been the feature of a handful of loan moves but having impressed is now a first team regular at Mossley.
He has previously had trials with Wigan Athletic and Salford City.
What’s his style of play?
Dave Wild, who managed the youngster at both of his previous clubs, told The Star he was an ‘old school’ winger and said he believes his protege has what it takes to make a success of his Owls trial.
He said: “He’s a wide midfielder, he’s old school in his style of play. His pace is frightening, he’s got a good frame on him and he loves to beat people.
“He’s got the skills to be developed into a centre-forward or down the middle, I think.”
Stockport Town chairman Rob York, who has witnessed Uchegbulam’s development from a raw 16-year-old youngster to a player who in a recent loan spell back at the club recorded six man of the match awards in just seven matches, agreed.
“There was something a little bit special about him,” he said.
“He has an unusual style of play sometimes, he makes exciting decisions. Every now and again he’ll do something and you’ll question whether you just saw that!”
How’s his temperment?
Both Wild and York agree that Uchegbulam is a true professional, even at his young age.
Asked what he was like as a person, York said: “He’s a prodigious talent and a really lovely lad. He’s the politest young man you’re ever likely to meet and he works so hard. And he just loves football.”
And Wild, who has overseen his coaching from his BTEC to the current day, said similar.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him. He came onto a college programme with us at 16 three years ago and he’s just gone on from there.
“You could see at 16 and 17 that was a level that was just too easy for him, but you couldn’t tell from him as a person.
“I was always going to take him with me. He’s become like a son to me, he’s such a nice, humble young lad.”
So what now?
Uchegbulam is registered with Mossley and will remain so until a move is negotiated with Wednesday. This stage is a long way into the future, though, although he had his moments against Barnsley he will have to do more to convince them to give him a full-time deal.
The Star understands the Nigerian will be invited back to the club to train with the youth squad again and that he may feature in future matches.
It is not known whether he will play in the under-23s’ next clash, against Burnley at Curzon Ashton on Monday.