Bolton Wanderers starlet Sanmi Odelusi happy under Dougie Freedman's wing
YOUNG Wanderers striker Sanmi Odelusi hopes to be the next star off Dougie Freedman’s production line and follow in the footsteps of England winger Wilfried Zaha to the top.
The 20-year-old front man has broken into the first-team picture at the Reebok this season and bagged a brace on his full debut in the Capital One Cup at Shrewsbury.
Wanderers’ exit in the next round at Tranmere has restricted the Londoner’s appearances to brief substitute outings since, but he remains committed to staying in the manager’s thoughts.
And having been given his chance by a boss with a reputation for developing young players, like he did with Zaha – who has recently been linked with a loan move to the Reebok from Manchester United – at previous club Crystal Palace, Odelusi believes Wanderers have the right man to take the club and his own career forward.
He told The Bolton News: “You see the likes of Zaha, who has now made a move to Manchester United.
“Of course, he is a great player but that move also came about through the gaffer who gave him a first-team opportunity at Crystal Palace.
“I see that as a good example for me.
“I know as soon as I walk onto the training pitch or even just through the doors at the training ground, I have to work hard.
“I do not want to come off the training pitch having given 97 per cent, it has to be 100 per cent every session.
“If I give it my all, I will see where it takes me.”
Odelusi’s last appearance came in the 3-1 defeat at Brighton, Wanderers last defeat in the Championship.
Since then, it is three games unbeaten for the Whites and they got their first victory at Birmingham before the international break.
Odelusi is as happy as anyone the team have broke their duck and is confident they can build on it when they return to action against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
He knows going on a good run may limit his senior chances further but says it will not stop his determination to perform at every opportunity, be it at first-team or development squad level.
Odelusi added: “I was delighted we got that first three points because it was a long time coming.
“Hopefully, we can kick on from that now and push higher up the league.
“I believe in the manager’s philosophy and what he is doing to the club.
“Hopefully, we will be back up there by the end of the season.
“For me it is about giving my all whatever game I am involved in, whether it’s with the reserves under Jamie Fullarton or with the first team.
“If I am called in, I have to make sure I give my all even if it does not always go right for me.
“I want to walk off every time knowing I have given 100 per cent in every game.
“You have to remain focused and practise whenever you can because practice makes perfect.”
Odelusi believes hard work will give him a chance of making it to the top and one day, hopefully, representing England.
Like Ivorian-born Zaha, also 20, he can also qualify for an African nation in the shape of Nigeria through his parents.
Odelusi says his dream is to play for England but admits he is keeping his options open at present.
He added: “Like any other footballer I would love to represent my country.
“My heritage is English – I was born here. I can also play for Nigeria through my parents.
“I haven’t decided yet.
“First and foremost, though, I would love to play for England.
“The international stage is the biggest stage and every player wants to play there. But the main thing for me right now is doing my best for Bolton Wanderers.”