Wigan Athletic Academy graduate on facing club he helped to save
Emeka Obi is looking forward to facing Wigan Athletic for the first time at Fylde tonight – after playing his part in saving his former club.
The 20-year-old centre-back was plucked out of the Academy and thrust into the Latics fold at the beginning of last season after administration ripped the heart of the team.
After helping the club stay alive while a new buyer was sought, Obi was one of a number of promising youngsters sacrificed in January to allow Latics to bring in more senior players to aid their survival fight.
With Latics now having stabilised on and off the field, Obi is relishing tonight’s game against his new employers at Mill Farm (7.30pm).
“It’ll be good to see so many familiar faces,” he told the Wigan Post.
“To play against some old team mates, with the fans in there, will be a great night. Hopefully the Wigan fans won’t be giving me any backchat now I’m an opposition player!
“But seriously, I was keeping tabs on all the games after leaving, I’m still a Wigan fan deep down and am so happy with the way things have turned out.”
It would be easy to feel more than a little aggrieved at the way things turned out, but Obi retains an outlook that belies his tender years.
“Thankfully everything’s worked out well for Wigan, even though it meant a few of us moving on,” he acknowledged.
“We knew by leaving we would be playing our part in protecting the club’s future.
“Knowing now the club was saved and managed to stay in League One was a big relief and means it was all worthwhile.
“And the messages me and a few of the lads received after we left was overwhelming to be honest.
“It was a surreal situation to be in at the time. But we could all see what was going on at the club, and we had no choice but to step up and do everything we could do to help.
“There were a lot of us who had to grow up very quickly, almost overnight, and we were learning on the job every day.
“But that experience we all went through will be with us for the rest of our careers.”
He’s also determined to make the most of his fresh start at Fylde under Nick Chadwick – his old Latics Under-23s coach.
“I believe everything happens for a reason, and Fylde was a good move for me because it means I get more experience under my belt,” he added.
“I’m enjoying my time here, the lads have been great and obviously with Nick being here it’s a massive bonus.
“He was the one who got me to Wigan as a first-year scholar, and there’s no better coach to be learning under.”
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