Izzie A Striker Now?

When Izzie Iriekpen was staring retirement from the game while still a teenager last season the last thing the centre half could have dreamed of was returning to action as a goal machine!

On the brink of packing it in - on sound, careful medical advice - he was urged to keep the faith by his family against all logic.

"Without God I wouldn't be here playing football - I was out for two years and I give God all thanks and glory," says Izzie, who has been revitalised by a loan spell at Leyton Orient.

"I never thought I would play football again but I just kept believing that one day I would be out there, and now I am, playing and scoring for Orient.

"The doctor told me that I might have to retire but I didn't want to listen to that; my brothers and my whole family was behind me and they said just keep believing in God.

"A couple of weeks after being told I might have to retire I was out training so thanks be to God without whom I would not be playing."

Not just playing, but, improbably, scoring twice in three games - after five minutes against Peterborough recently and then after 58 seconds against Southend in the week.

He says:

"I have never even scored two in a season let alone in three games, so hopefully the lads back at West Ham will be taking notice!

"If I get my chance when I go back to West Ham I will take it."

Izzie's arrival at Brisbane Road sparked something of an improvement in the club's fortunes and he explains:

"I tried to spark things up in the changing room and hopefully we can keep climbing up the table to reach the play-off spots."

Not that, with God on his side or not, his games have been easy; against Southend, he got involved in a little unholy shenanigans and says:

"I got the yellow card, but I don't know why, because one of their players punched me; that is why I got angry and a few words were exchanged at the end.

"I didn't see their player sent off - I was trying to mark him and the next thing I know he has gone."

His thoughts are still with West Ham as well as Leyton Orient, and he concludes:

"I don't know what to say there; the lads are playing well away but need to get their confidence back at home. "The boys there are different class and I am sure it will start happening soon."