Sometimes you play alongside someone and you just know there is something special about them.
Former Dartford youth player Justin Nwogu (these days known by the surname Amaluzor) was snapped up by Barnet in 2015 and quickly broke into the Bees’ first team, then playing in League Two.
Loan spells at Hayes & Yeading, Hemel Hempstead, Hampton & Richmond and Bognor Regis followed before a permanent move to Braintree at the start of last season.
He made 20 appearances for the Essex club before being signed mid-campaign by National League South outfit Maidstone United, who attract an average of attendancr of over 2,000.
Maidstone’s head of football John Still has had nothing but praise for Justin and his campaign so far. Since arriving at the Gallagher Stadium, he has made 33 appearances and bagged 10 goals.
“Justin is quick, bright and has got a goal in him. He can play wide on either side – he likes to play on the right and cut in on his left foot, and he can play off the main striker” – John Still
Justin and I go way back. Same schools, same Sunday league team growing up, same friends. When I think about the status that comes from being good at football alone, especially whilst in school the benefits are large.
Leaving school early. Skip lunch queues. Teachers love you. The “smart kids” never got those benefits. The light is constantly shining on you. You’re an untouchable, he was untouchable.
I was also untouchable, in case you were wondering. But less out there, and not charming or boisterous enough to get away with things; maybe that’s a reason why our careers took different paths.
Justin, 23, was loud and still is – upon meeting up, nothing had changed after all these years. You’d know he was in a room before you even got there. Back of the bus type. Tall, freakishly strong, quick, a phenomenal dribbler with a wand of a left foot.
Having shared a pitch with hundreds of talented footballers Justin ranks amongst my top 10. To this day, I still call him ‘Justin Tech’ (as in technique). After an electric start to the current campaign I was able to sit down and have a chat with the exciting forward.
How are you enjoying your football at the moment?
It’s going well. I’ve been performing well and the gaffer likes me so I’m in a good space at the moment. I have targets to hit, but I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been, and I want us to climb up the table and fight for promotion.
I saw you on Fifa 19: what was that like?
Bro, it’s mad. It’s what we’ve dreamed of since school. Not just for me but for you and everyone back home and anyone that knows me. I want us to be an inspiration and show others where we’re from that you can do great things if you work hard.
Are you playing for a move? What level do you think you can reach?
No, definitely not playing for a move at the moment. I’m taking each match as it comes, going to training and staying focused on the team.
Come on, how high are you aiming?
I think it’s good to be realistic but at the same time I’m aiming towards something, I still have to hold onto a dream so I need something to chase. Champions League? That would be great, but I definitely see myself in the Premier League one day. But right now I’m only focused on my season, whatever happens happens.
How has your game changed since sunday league football?
I’m a lot more mature with my game now, its no longer just get the ball and dribble past everyone. I like to play off the right coming in linking up, getting goals. Obviously. I need to add more goals its just not about the link up for me, I want to get goals as well.