Osaze Urghoghide's former coach reveals the youngster’s journey to Sheffield Wednesday - and why he was released by AFC Wimbledon
The AFC Wimbledon academy manager believes Sheffield Wednesday youngster Osaze Urhoghide has what it takes to make his way into a regular Owls starting berth, and that the Dons may live to regret releasing him last year.
Michael Hamilton watched on with pride as an interview with the 19-year-old went viral on social media on Saturday evening, after Urhoghide’s senior debut saw him earn rave reviews.
The defender slotted in at right back in Wednesday’s 1-0 FA Cup third round win at Premier League Brighton, a stage a million miles from where Hamilton first came into contact with a raw, nervous, 14-year-old trialist five years ago.
“He needed a lot of work,” Hamilton told The Star. “If we’d have decided to let him go after his trial, I don’t anyone would’ve thought there was anything wrong with that.
“But Osaze was an athlete, he was powerful and although he needed a lot of work technically and tactically, he had this attitude and determination that stood him apart.
“Being in London, we get a lot of trialists and a lot of talented boys through the door. The fact is at that time he probably wasn’t good enough.”
They took a punt and Urhoghide went on to sign professional terms with the under-18s at Wimbledon. Within a couple of seasons was regularly playing under-23s football at the age of 17.
Rising through the ranks, all was well until disaster struck – a disaster caused by his own determination to succeed.
“He was given an off-season programme for his fitness and because of the type of by he is, he did more than he was told to,” said Hamilton, who coached Urhoghide directly for two years while he was with the club’s under-18 side.
“He ended up injured for five or six months and that set him back. Certain people at the club weren’t happy with how he’d gone about it, even though he was just trying to do that bit more because he is so determined.
“I think they made a snapshot decision of him and how he’d been after the injury and what he was about.”
Senior management at Wimbledon decided not to renew the youngster’s professional terms at the end of last season and he was left without a club.
His former coach set up trials with other clubs, but it was Sheffield Wednesday that signed him on.
Hamilton keeps in contact with Urhoghide, speaking to him ‘at least once a month’, and said he believes the teenager has what it takes to make a spot in the Owls first team his own.
The teenager took the time to visit his old coaches when the Dons visited Bramall Lane for a FA Youth Cup tie last month.
“He has this confidence and determination,” the youth coach said. “He was never scared he wouldn’t succeed.
“He said to me, ‘trust me, if somebody out there gives me an opportunity, I will be fine’.
“He’d put me down as a reference and Sheffield Wednesday contacted me and asked ‘what’s wrong with him?’ It’s not often a young player like that just falls on your doorstep.”
The rest, of course, is history and while he accepts it would have been a leap to assume the trialist he first saw would go on to play a starring role in an FA Cup third round win at a Premier League ground, Hamilton is not hugely surprised.
He said: “There’s just no ego to him. If you ask him to do something, he will do it.
“He puts his head where other wouldn’t put their boot. That naivety works for him.
“He’s the most determined and level-headed player I’ve ever worked with. He’s a pleasure to coach.”