In the four-and-a-half years that Osayamen Osawe has played in German football he’s played in three different divisions, from a solitary appearance in the fourth tier to scoring goals in the second and third divisions. He came to the country as an unknown but has gone on to play for some of the most historic clubs in the country and has recently joined yet another.
Earlier this week, the 25-year-old striker who was born in Nigeria but raised in Manchester, secured a move to 3. Liga side KFC Uerdingen, the former club of Kris Thackray. Uerdingen are one of German footballs fallen giants. They won the German Cup in 1985 and spent most of the 1980s in the Bundesliga but back in 2011, they were playing in the sixth tier. They’re now on their way back up and aiming for the 2. Bundesliga. That’s where Osawe comes in.
“I’ve got ambition and my ambition in the future, like this year, is that we want to move up to the second league,” he says. “That’s part of the project and why they signed me and that’s why I went there to push the team up to the second league and we will see where it goes from there.
“I’ve joined Uerdingen because it’s a good club with a lot of ambition and yeah I think I’ve made the right decision and I’m happy to be a part of them.”
The club certainly have the capacity for a return to the top. Their Grotenburg-Stadion holds 34,500 spectators.
Osawe’s transfer comes after starting the campaign with Ingolstadt, a team who are back in second-tier after a couple of years in the Bundesliga. The English forward was signed after scoring seven goals in the previous campaign for Kaiserslautern but going into the winter break, Ingolstadt are bottom of the 2. Bundesliga and Osawe failed to score his first goal for the club.
“This year has been tricky and wasn’t such a great time at Ingolstadt but that’s football at the end of the day and I gave everything,” says the forward after his move to Uerdingen was complete.
It’s fair to say though that his goal drought has been out of character. Since moving to Germany in 2014 to join third-tier club Hallescher, the striker has been finding the back of the net with regularity.
Going back to those early days, Osawe was coming off the back of a season with Southport in the National League, having left Blackburn Rovers the previous year. At the time, the option of a move abroad was too good to resist, despite still being young at the time.
“I was playing football in England at the time and then my agent and I found a better opportunity in Germany so had to take it.
“In the beginning I was young, I was 20, so settling in Germany was a little bit difficult at first as I moved to east Germany which is not as nice as West Germany but I got used to it and made new friends in Germany so it made it a lot easier for me.”
His time on the pitch during his first season with Hallescher matched his time settling in off it. He scored just twice in the first half of the season as he adjusted to his new surroundings and match officials.
“The style of Germany is a little bit different but it’s football, it’s still the same tactics and things like this but the main difference are the referees. In England it’s a lot more physical so you get away with more things in England than in Germany.”
However, from March onwards, he went on an impressive scoring streak, scoring five more to end the season with seven goals from 32 appearances, of which only ten were starts.
He had made a lasting effect on the division and his club’s fans and the following year, he would become a regular in the side, scoring ten goals to become the club’s top scorer. That made 17 goals in two seasons but the forward was not surprised with his success.
“Of course my aim was to do good there, I gave everything and worked hard so it didn’t really come as a shock when I did well because I’m sure every footballer wants to to do well and always wants to push forward in their career. That’s what I aimed to do when I want to Hallescher.”
His impressive form meant it wasn’t long until bigger clubs were sniffing round and in 2016, he joined Kaiserslautern, a team who had won the Bundesliga twice in the 1990s but were now playing one division above Hallescher in 2. Bundesliga.
Despite the club struggling during the two years he was there, Osawe still managed to score 15 goals during his time with the club, including five league goals in his second year in which the club suffered relegation.
That was when the aforementioned move to Ingolstadt came about and the former Blackburn Rovers youngster is happy with the recognition he’s received since moving abroad.
“I went to two big clubs, two second league clubs and Kaiserslautern was a very big club,” he says. “They have a lot of history, it’s a traditional club and it was a very good two years there but unfortunately we went down.
“For me it was good to get recognised in Germany by these clubs and I’m thankful and grateful.”
Now at Uerdingen, Osawe is joining a team who currently sit in third place and have a chance of securing promotion to the 2. Bundesliga for the first time since the late 1990s. They return to league action after the winter break at the end of the month and the 25-year-old is hoping his arrival at the club can help them finish the job.
“I’m still growing as a football player and I’m still learning things,” he says. “It’s a good step for me as it’s a club with a lot of good players and a lot of good potential for me so I’m really excited to make the transition there.”
Whatever happens during the rest of the season, the striker has gone from unknown quantity to feared forward in a country which is fast becoming his second home.