Barnsley striker Obbi Oulare on toughening up and learning from Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney

BARNSLEY striker Obbi Oulare’s first stint in England was anything but memorable. Or so the theory goes.
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Professionally, his time at Watford was undoubtedly tough.

The Belgian forward joined the Hornets in 2015, but featured just three times in all competitions before heading back to his homeland to join Standard Liege in May 2019.

Barnsley FC striker Obbi Oulare in his time at Standard Liege. Picture: VIRGINIE LEFOUR/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)Barnsley FC striker Obbi Oulare in his time at Standard Liege. Picture: VIRGINIE LEFOUR/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
Barnsley FC striker Obbi Oulare in his time at Standard Liege. Picture: VIRGINIE LEFOUR/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite his experiences, Oulare, who was farmed out on loan to Zulte Waregem, Willem II, Antwerp and Liege, says he still learned plenty from his time in Hertfordshire where he rubbed shoulders with senior professionals and household names such as Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo.

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He feels better for the experience, second time around in this country. It also toughened him up.

Oulare, whose father Souleymane Oulare had a brief spell in England with Stoke City, said: “It has always been my dream (to play in England) and why I first came here when I was 19 years old.

“It was maybe too soon for me, but now I am 25 and it suits me very well with my age and experience. I hope I can do well.

“I loved the life (in England) and I was living in the north of London in Hampstead and it was beautiful.

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“We had a great time with a lot of foreigners and Ighalo was having the time of his life and then there was Troy Denney at the club and I remember a lot of those guys like Etienne Capoue and Heurelho Gomes.

“You learned every day from them. People think if you don’t play, you don’t improve. But in those moments, I learned a lot mentally. I went there as a kid, for the first time out of my country and it made me the man I am today and I am really grateful - even though it could have been better.

“For a 19-year-old guy, it was a great experience to be there, even though I did not play. Today, I am at the other side of the table and one of the oldest guys and hope I can help the younger lads as this situation is not easy and I am going to do my best to change it.”

Fitness issues after an initial delay in his visa being processed by the Home Office has ensured that the start of his time at Barnsley has been frustrating - compounded by the club’s fraught opening to the campaign which recently culminated in the departure of Markus Schopp.

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Oulare has at least afforded himself a bit of light at the end of the tunnel after making his debut for the Reds from the bench at Middlesbrough on October 20 - and he insists that his mindset has stayed strong despite a testing opening to his second spell in England.

Injury and family concerns put paid to his hopes of heading to Barnsley in January and his time on the periphery earlier this year at Liege - when he trained with the under-21 team - represented a harder time than his early travails at Oakwell in his opinion - with the frontman just grateful that the Reds maintained their interest and brought him to the club in August.

He commented: “The hardest time in my career was when I was back at Standard Liege in the second team. Now, I am 25 years old and this is football and you have ups and downs and you have to deal with it to accept it and I am just looking forward.

"I am ready for it now (at Barnsley). I have always heard it is the toughest league in the world and having seen it, I agree with it. Every game is tough, but it is nice to be here. I hope I can do well.”