Peter Odemwingie's big adventure

From Tashkent to the Black Country via Russia, Nigeria, Belgium and France - Peter Odemwingie has taken the scenic route to Premier League.

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From Tashkent to the Black Country via Russia, Nigeria, Belgium and France - Peter Odemwingie has taken the scenic route to Premier League.

But the Albion striker never gave up on his hope of making one of Europe's major competitions.

Odemwingie's journey from his birthplace behind the Iron Curtain to the world's richest league took him to five countries on two continents and helped to shape a man who has already made his mark on the Baggies.

It took him until the age of 29 to reach one of Europe's premier leagues, but Odemwingie believes he still has plenty to give.

He said: "It sounds old when you're 29 but I have some African genes and we can play a little bit longer maybe than the average person.

"I know I am a little bit past the middle of my career but not at the end."

Odemwingie's journey to stardom began in Uzbekistan, when the Soviet state remained ruled from Moscow.

The forward, who was born to a Russian mother and Nigerian father, has happy memories of his early life under communist rule.

He said: "It was very organised, there were schools and lots of facilities for lots of different sports.

"It was very good. As a kid I would never have noticed any problems."

Odemwingie stayed in the USSR but was forced to leave his parents at an early age to follow his football dreams after one of Russia's major clubs spotted his potential.

He said: "I was 14 and a half when I moved to the CSKA academy.

"I was at the CSKA school, which had the best facilities in the country, a covered pitch and athletics training facilities.

"I was having the time of my life then."

But the biggest change in his life cme at the age of 17, when his parents took career decisions to move to Africa and their teenage son followed them to his father's homeland.

It was in Nigeria that Odemwingie's football career took off, prompting a move back to Europe and a big break in the professional game.

After trials with Anderlecht, Odemwingie signed for La Louviere, a club close to Brussels.

A move to Lille in France followed where he played against Manchester United, AC Milan, Villerreal and Benfica in the Champions League.

Finally, Odemwingie's career went full circle with a move back to Moscow with Lokomtiv.

From Moscow he secured his move to Albion, where his dreams continue to be fulfilled.

He said: "I always hoped and every player should look forward to playing in the biggest leagues for the biggest clubs.

"If you can look back at the end of your career and know you have done that, you can be pleased with yourself."

By Steve Madeley