chie chie chiedozie !!
This article first appeared in MEHSTG Vol 2. Issue 29 - November 2002
the current focus on wingers in this issue, TED
MAUL decided to go back to the
mid-80s to find one of our more exotic wide-men, who perhaps we didnít
see the best of.
The first abiding memory of John
Chiedozie that I had was not when he was playing for Tottenham.
It was on ďThe Big MatchĒ, in a game featuring West Ham
United and Orient at Upton Park. Having
given the Ironsí defence a torrid time with his lightning pace down
the flank, he received the ball and started another run down the right
wing. As he shaped to go
past his marker, he pushed the ball past Frank Lampard senior.
As he started to run and got level with the veteran defender, he
suffered a tackle that nearly took Chiedozieís leg off at the knee.
For a youngster, such as the pacy Nigerian, to cause such a panic
in an experienced player showed how his talents could be harnessed.
Despite Spurs being interested when
Orient sold him, he went North to Notts. County, who had just been
promoted to the old First Division.
He spent three years there, before they dropped back into
Division Two. While at
Meadow Lane, he took the headlines more often than not, including a
sparkling performance in a 3-0 thrashing Tottenham suffered away from
home in 1983. Such defeats
by County in later days were guaranteed to get managers the sack !!
When he left the Midlands club, he was
much sought after, but Peter Shreeveís £375,000 bid brought him to
White Hart Lane. It was the
start of a new team at Tottenham, with Clive Allen joining from QPR that
same summer as a replacement for the Barcelona bound Steve Archibald.
With Allen the predator, it was obvious that Chiedozie was brought in as the supplier. His pace certainly was an asset that would prove useful, but his delivery often left a little to the imagination. Quite regularly, he would speed away from his opponent, only to get near the by-line and fire a cross over the heads of the incoming strikers or over the bar. It was as frustrating for the crowd, as it must have been for the forwards. But he started really well. His goal in the first League match, away to Everton was part of a marvellous performance in beating the FA Cup holders. Chiedozie was also instrumental in the making of one of Clive Allenís goals too.
He chipped in with five goals in his
first season; all scored before mid-November and included a cracking
shot to give us a 1-0 win at Aston Villa.
His pace and a fierce shot contributed to his goalscoring
ability, where he could coolly lost home a chance and this brought him
seven goals to his credit in his second term at the Lane.
Chiedozie helped Spurs to a thumping 4-1 win over Chelsea (how
good does that sound ?) with one of the goals and another two in a 5-1
mauling of Newcastle United. The
winger had five by November and this time continued through to the end
of the season, with two league goals after Christmas and two FA Cup
goals too. One saved Spurs
from going down to Oxford United at the Manor Ground in the rain
(didnít it always rain there ?) and then another in the net against
his old side Notts. County as Spurs went on to win 5-0 in the 4th
John only played once in his final season with Tottenham. The injuries that struck him down restricted him to 64 games and 14 goals in a Spurs shirt and struck again when he moved on to Derby County, before returning to Notts. County and then on to Chesterfield. Chiedozie then dropped into non-league football with Banks of Barking and Bashley. Last heard of being involved in a business renting bouncy castles, it is a shame that he could not inflate his reputation as easily. The blistering pace he possessed meant that the only way for him to be stopped quite often was to be kicked out of the game.
The stats donít always tell the full
story though. We probably
didnít see the best of John Chiedozie, but if he had joined Spurs
straight from Orient rather than taking a detour to Nottingham, the
story might have been very different.
It wasnít just a case of him beating defenders, as he did have
enough trickery to get by them, but he had the necessary fleet of foot
to get onto the end of long balls over the top of the defence.
However, that alone was not enough and as the knocks he took hit
harder, he was moved on. Ironically,
his replacement had come to the club just a year after John joined Spurs
and did not enjoy half the pace the Nigerian was blessed with. It just
shows that itís not what you are given, but what you do with it that
matters. Chris Waddle was a
prime example of how effective that can be.
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