• The Curious Case of Abdul Razak

    Abdul Razak is a player with an unspectacular record and is quickly gaining a reputation as a bit of a Nomad. A quick look on Wikipedia will tell you he’s played for a variety of clubs, starting in the academy with Palace (boo), onto Manchester City, Portsmouth, Brighton, Charlton, onto Anzhi in Russia, back to England with West Ham, onto Doncaster... and more recently to Sweden where he’s currently with his third club.

    Abdul Razak joined City as a teenager adding to their Ivorian contingent at the club. Then manager Roberto Mancini is reported to have thought of Razak as the most promising youngster at City’s growing academy and under him he was given a number of first team opportunities.

    He made a surprise debut as a late substitute for City in 2011 in a 3-0 win against West Brom. Coach David Platt said: “We didn’t have many midfield players and I’m not too sure the gaffer would have thrown him on had the game been a bit tighter, but he has ability, no doubt about that." This was not the City of now. Whilst they had Sheikh Mansour’s investment by then and had built a great first team side that would win the league that season, they weren’t the empire of hoarded young talent they are now. So Abdul got a chance, but ultimately this was one of only a handful of first team appearances he made during his time at City with minimal impact.

    He was tipped by Bet and Skill to do well with the Albion and when he arrived on loan he’d built up a reputation of being a promising talent. With this reputation came the inevitable Yaya Touré comparison. However, aside from the similar physical characteristics, the shared nationality and position, it would later become clear that they were worlds apart as players.

    He joined the Albion on loan from Man City in February 2012 along with fellow City youngster Gai Assulin. Razak was brought in to fill the gap left by an injury to Gary Dicker. Then Albion manager Poyet said on signing Razak: "Abdul is the type of midfielder I have wanted to bring into the squad for some time. He is someone we have been aware of for a while”.

    The Albion were in good form and still had an outside chance of the playoffs, but nonetheless he went straight into the team for his home debut against Ipswich. He started in a midfield three with Alan Navarro and Liam Bridcutt and despite being amongst established players, Razak was the one that starred in the 3-0 win, getting the Man of the Match award and plenty of plaudits in the process. Poyet said Razak added “Power, Strength and Speed” to the midfield that the Albion had previously lacked.

    I can confirm that Abdul was fantastic that day. He really suited the way Poyet wanted the team to play, I personally was mesmerised. I went to the game with my mum as my usual compatriot couldn’t go and she had told me a few times that she was keen to experience the AMEX for herself in person. As I’ve said in previous blogs, she’s not a football fan and she’s not been to many games since, so for all she knows Razak could now have gone on to become a star of world football once he returned to City.

    Gus was so taken with Abdul he stated after the game "We will try and keep him until the end of the season, and hopefully use him all the time." However Abdul played only 5 more times for the Albion having an ever diminishing impact on the team, and produced no better performances than that day. This would be his high watermark, for the Albion and looking at his career since, possibly to date.

    Abdul stated to the Man City website soon after that performance about his time at Brighton: "I'm enjoying it, I like the way that Brighton play their football.” He also spoke at the same time to the BBC about his aim to improve, saying: "I'll keep learning. I hope I can show to people I can do more on the pitch." Sadly this improvement didn’t materialise as he’d hoped, certainly not at the Albion.

    As his impact quickly diminished, he was left out of the squad for the matches against Blackpool and Portsmouth and after playing just six times in his two month spell, when Gary Dicker returned from injury, the clubs mutually agreed for him to go back to Man City ahead of schedule.

    Both club websites reported his departure in short blunt statements. However, rumours circulated there was more to it and Abdul’s nomadic record of clubs ever since also suggests he can be a disruptive figure that fails to settle at clubs. Rumours at the time suggested that as Abdul’s spell went on and his performances began to drop, he eventually fell out with manager Gus Poyet and soon after inevitably left the club. Poyet officially cited a move to decrease the number of loan signing at the club soon after his departure, but this wouldn’t have been the first or the last time either party would fall out with their colleagues.

    Further evidence of Razak’s disruptive character was shown, when a year later He was sent home from an Ivory Coast squad after fighting with fellow player Jean-Jacques Gosso. After that, he was only included in two more national team squads and hasn’t played for them since.

    Razak’s career was already starting to feel like a case of unfulfilled potential. He left City in 2013 and a move to then sugar daddy fuelled Anzhi in Russia followed. However, this ended after only a few months when the opportunity to return to England came about with West Ham the following January but he failed to make any kind of impact there. Subsequent short spells here, there and Doncaster followed and Razak is now attempting to rebuild his career in Sweden but since joining Gothenburg in January 2017 is now with his third Swedish top division team, the lesser known IK Sirius.

    At the age of 25 there is still hope that Razak could return to a big European league once again to fulfil the potential that those such as Roberto Mancini saw of him as a teenager. Maybe he’s learned from previous mistakes but you feel he may have burned too many bridges along the way for that to happen in England at least.
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