Peter Odemwingie: I’m so grateful for West Brom fans’ warmness

Peter Odemwingie was delighted to finally pull on green and yellow for Albion – and to be warmly received despite the circumstances of his Hawthorns exit.

Peter Odemwingie and former West Bromwich Albion players for both Team Morrison and Team Brunt are presented to the fans at The Hawthorns on September 24, 2022 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Peter Odemwingie and former West Bromwich Albion players for both Team Morrison and Team Brunt are presented to the fans at The Hawthorns on September 24, 2022 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Albion’s 30-goal record Premier League scorer returned to the club as part of Team Brunty, where he pulled on the away colours, during Saturday’s charity fixture.

The 41-year-old Nigerian, who lives in Birmingham with his three children, said he always hoped to play in green and yellow at The Hawthorns, due to its likeness to the first club of his career in his homeland, Bendel Insurance.

The striker was well received by fans of all ages on Saturday. He said: “The main idea was just to interact with the fans – their memories are precious, as much as ours.

“Seeing my shirt, people bringing from the first season especially, all of those things made my day.

“And I could finally put on the green and yellow. I always wanted to in my time but we didn’t have it.

“Because my first professional club (Benin City-based Bendel Insurance) was those colours and I thought it was destiny for me to play in it with West Brom but I never wore that.

“And today it happened, and the number (24), it was a great day.”

Odemwingie endured a difficult and at-times fractious finale at the club after a potential move to Harry Redknapp’s Queens Park Rangers on January deadline day 2013 broke down despite the striker being interviewed from his car outside Loftus Road. Odemwingie also made comments on social media, before apologising. Th striker eventually went on to feature for Cardiff, Stoke, Bristol City (loan) and Rotherham.

He said of his reception: “With my drama, of course, considering that there’s so much warmth – from me as well, and not just towards me. I appreciate it.”

The former Nigeria international retired in 2018. He was one of several modern-day Albion icons to celebrate the careers of legendary duo James Morrison and Chris Brunt.

“We talked between ourselves as players, to serve the club for more than 10 years, it’s a great effort so respect to Chris and Mozza, they enjoyed themselves,” added Odemwingie. “I could tell with Brunty next to me in the changing rooms he was a bit like ‘thank you guys for coming’ and I said ‘everybody’s enjoying it, I see and hear it’. We loved coming, it’s memories for all of us.

“Well done to The Foundation for putting this game on for all of us, for fans as well, even seeing a young kid 12 or 13 coming to me saying ‘you’re a legend’, it means a lot as a sportsman.

“So whatever we can do to encourage and set examples of good behaviour as well.”

He continued: “We just realised how many quality players we had over the years and the reason West Brom was flying in our time.

“It explains why this is a big club, it maintains a big respectable position in the game.”

Odemwingie, who scored 31 in total in 90 games in three seasons, reflected on battles with big Swedish defender Jonas Olsson, adding: “Kind of (like a return to training against Olsson), we had three years of that, he’s a great player, Jonas.

“We had to sometimes put our body through it and he’s one example, his passion is infectious and was a huge contribution to our flying days.”

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