By Nick Skoric
Nedum Onuoha was not always a defender. In fact, he began his career in Manchester City’s academy and scored 42 goals in a single season.
The QPR defender – who was given his professional debut by Kevin Keegan at City – moved from Nigeria to Miles Platting in Manchester when he was just five years old and didn’t find the inclement weather on our shores welcoming.
As the story goes, he was bullied for wearing four jumpers on a mild day in September – but swiftly dealt with the school bully!
I remember my father’s advice after coming home from school with a black eye. “You may be small son but you have big feet. Use them!” he gently advised. I took up football.
Throughout his career, few strikers have bullied Onouha on the pitch. Or even from the terraces despite being racially abused by Serbian fans during an England U21s game in the European Championships in 2007.
Fast forward to Sunday and Onuoha will play his last game for QPR in the away tie against Leeds United. He’s decided to call it time on his six-and-a-half-year spell at Loftus Road.
He joined the R’s in January 2012 and has gone on to make 223 appearances, scoring eight goals.
The 31-year-old, who has captained the club for the past three seasons, helped the R’s avoid relegation from the Premier League in 2011-12. The defender was also an integral part in the Hoops’ return to the top flight in 2013-14, culminating in the playoff final victory over Derby County at Wembley.
I can still hear the roar when Bobby Zamora netted the winner. Cue the goose bumps.
“I want to thank everyone for making me feel welcome from the moment I arrived,” added Onuoha. “When I do leave it will feel very different as I’ve spent half of my career here but, inevitably, nothing lasts forever.
“Some of my best memories have been under the lights at Loftus Road, where our fans are on top of the players and the opposition can feel the pressure at every angle.”
QPR boss Ian Holloway added: “Nedum has been a wonderful player and a fantastic servant for QPR.
“He is a brilliant professional who has been great for the development of the younger lads here, offering them guidance and always being there for them, supporting them on and off the pitch.
“I am sure he has got a lot of years left in him and I wish him all the very best wherever he goes.”
Meanwhile, the fate of Holloway remains a mystery after QPR owner Tony Fernandes refused to confirm if the Bristolian would be in charge next season.
After Steven Gerrard’s surprising near-certain appointment at (the other) Rangers, who knows what could be on the cards in W12?
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
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