Although he was used sparingly during an Elland Road stint which lasted just under 18 months, Enoch Showunmi enjoyed a strong relationship with Leeds United supporters.
In fact, over a decade since his departure, he still receives messages from fans and the club undoubtedly left a lasting impact on the former Nigeria international.
Showunmi told LeedsLive: “The fans at the club, they’re something else. Out of all the clubs I played for, and I didn’t have the greatest time at Leeds, most fans that reach out to me are Leeds fans.”
He arrived from Bristol City in the summer of 2008, less than six months after rejecting a move to West Yorkshire.
Keen to fight for his status as a Championship player, he opted to turn the League One Whites down and instead joined Sheffield Wednesday on loan.
As fate would have it, the Owls would face Bristol City early on his loan spell and with Showunmi ineligible, he instead played in a reserve game for Wednesday. The opponents that day were Leeds United.
“I scored two goals in that game and apparently, the word I heard was ‘if no one cares about this kid and he plays that in a reserve game for his loan club, imagine if someone cared about him’.”
Leeds’ interest failed to waver and manager Gary McAllister secured his signature in July 2008, leaving the boyhood Liverpool fan starstruck.
He said: “I knew him more so than other managers I worked under because he’s a legend of the game.
“I grew up supporting Liverpool so to work under him was something else. I was excited about the opportunity.
“I knew Leeds were sleeping giants and the main thing was to get out of that division, I wanted to be part of the team that took them up.”
Although he struggled to feature regularly with the formidable partnership Jermaine Beckford and Luciano Becchio as competition, Showunmi relished the opportunity to revel in the Elland Road experience.
He said: “Two hours before kick-off, there’d be 200/250 fans wanting pictures and autographs, it was insane.
“In and around the city, I’d get recognised. You don’t realise how big the club is.”
However, his progress at the club was hindered by a blood clot on his lung, something he played with during a defeat to Milton Keynes Dons.
He said: “When I got back to Leeds, I didn’t feel great. I went to the doctors and they told me it was a blood clot, they told me I might never play football again.”
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By the time he returned after a lengthy lay-off, Simon Grayson had replaced Gary McAllister as manager.
Although coming back to play was a privilege in itself after the scare, Showunmi was left frustrated by his ostracisation under Grayson.
“I came off the bench a couple of times under Grayson and then he started making me train with the academy. I was completely out of the setup.”
Spells at Falkirk, Tranmere Rovers and Notts County followed before a brief stint in non-league football before retiring.
Since hanging up his boots, Showunmi founded Global Soccer Pathways and became Head of Recruitment at the Carnegie International Soccer Academy, helping students to continue their education without sacrificing their footballing development.
He said: “I try to help and inspire players using my knowledge and experience, so they can get to the next level in their careers.”
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