Ex-Man City and Blackburn youngster Osayamen Osawe proving talent at Kaiserslautern

Osayamen Osawe spent a number of years with Blackburn. Credit: PA

By Will Unwin

Cheetham Hill can be a tough place to grow up in Manchester, it's home to a plethora of nationalities, languages and cultures. This diversity mixed with the hotbed of football that Manchester has become makes it the perfect breeding ground for a young player open to broader horizons.

Nigerian-born striker Osayamen Osawe showed some spark in the north-west, featuring for both Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers during his teens. He would go on to play for Rovers in an FA Youth Cup final against Chelsea, who included Nathan Ake and Nathaniel Chalobah in their ranks, in 2012.

After moving to Germany in 2014 to join minnows Hallescher, two years later Osawe has earned a move to former Champions League semi-finalists Kaiserslautern, now of Bundesliga 2.

Despite a promising time at Ewood Park, Osawe was released in 2013, forcing him to drop down the divisions to join non-league Southport, which wasn't a new experience for him, having previously enjoyed loan spells at Accrington Stanley and Hyde.

"I grew up with more professional surroundings, for example, Blackburn were in the Premiership and Championship when I was there and then I went down to Southport in the fifth-tier which was not as professional as the top teams so I had get used to it and just get my head down and play the football there," Osawe told ITV.

Osawe played in a Youth Cup final for Blackburn. Credit: PA

Osawe netted just six times in his season with Southport but impressed many onlookers with his performers for the Sandgrounders. After seeing what life was like at this level, Osawe decided a drastic change was needed in his career and life.

"When I went down to Southport I spoke to my agent we talked about Germany being a good market for young players so me and my agent decided to come over to Germany as we thought that it was the right time to restart my career.

"I had fears about moving to Germany as I was on my own and was obviously going to be a bit nervous about it, but once I came over everything was good and I hit the ground running."

Osawe spent a year at Southport. Credit: PA

The ex-Blackburn striker - aged 20 at the time - decided to join little known Bundesliga 3 side Hallescher, based in the small town of Halle in the east of Germany.

"I never thought when I was young and growing up in Cheetham Hill that I would play football abroad, I always thought you had to play football in England. I always wanted to be a footballer, but I never imagined that I would be playing football in Germany or anywhere abroad, I thought I would never move out of England, I thought I would always live and play football there.

"When I came to Germany I moved to East Germany and the East and the West are still quite different, so it was quite different from Manchester where I came from, which is quite a busy city of around two million so to move to Halle, a town of 250,000, it was a little strange at first but after the first six months I settled in OK. It was quite boring living in a small city so when I got the chance I would go to Berlin or the bigger cities."

  • Osawe scored twice in a pre-season game for Kaiserslautern

As well as adapting to the lifestyle of offer in an east German town, Osawe needed to adapt to life on the pitch in order to ensure his career didn't stall any further.

"The style was a little bit strange because of the way they play, it was slightly different from England and they train a lot more here; in England we'd train once a day but here in Germany we train twice a day, so when I came here it was a little bit of a shock to my body, at the start, but I've now fully adapted to the German style of play."

Osawe knows moving to Germany has been the making of him and his career and his gamble to leave England has certainly been justified, having joined four-time Bundesliga champions, Kaiserslautern, this summer. It's a huge step up, signified by the fact the club play a 50,000 capacity stadium in the west of the country.

Osawe, left, has recently joined Kaiserslautern. Credit: Kaiserslautern

"I think it helped my game a lot, I had to fight my way into the first 11 and then, when I did get into the starting line-up, I had to fight for my position so I feel proud of my achievement of being successful at Hallescher and earning a move to the Bundesliga II with Kaiserslautern.

"My ambition right now it to get into Kaiserslautern's starting 11, so work hard in training, prove to the trainer that he can pick me for the team, if not I can come off the bench a show what I can do, work for the team and help the team in some way or another."

Osawe left a lot behind to ply his trade in German but he recognises the sacrifices have been worthwhile, as he looks to fire Kaiserlautern back into the top-flight. Despite wanting to return to Manchester at some point in the future, Osawe knows what he owes his current home and he's keen to repay the faith.