Huddersfield Town v Norwich City - Josh Koroma owes big debt to mentor Justin Edinburgh

Josh Koroma’s time working under the late Justin Edinburgh is something that he will forever be grateful for.

Huddersfield Town's Josh Koroma, centre. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

The Leyton Orient manager’s untimely passing at the age of just 49 in June 2019 deeply affected many in football who had the privilege to know and work with – including the Huddersfield Town forward

Koroma cut a dash as part of an O’s side who lifted the National League title under Edinburgh in 2018-19 and reached the FA Trophy final in a joyous season of renaissance in East London.

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The form of Koroma, under the guidance of Edinburgh, ultimately helped earn him a move up the footballing ladder to Huddersfield and he is the first to acknowledge that.

But in the final analysis, Edinburgh, a big favourite during his playing days at Tottenham, bequeathed Koroma with a gift even more important.

Namely getting his career – and maybe life – back on track.

Before Edinburgh’s arrival in November 2017, Koroma – then still a teenager – had started just four league games for the O’s in 2017-18, a time when the club were still picking up the pieces following an inglorious relegation at the end of the previous season.

After becoming a regular in the team in January 2018, Southwark-born Koroma went onto be top-scorer with 11 goals during the O’s memorable promotion campaign the following year.

Life was good with the prospect of a move to the Championship. But then came the bombshell news of the death of Edinburgh, a figure who turned around Koroma’s fortunes just when they were in danger of listing.

Koroma – whose move to Town was confirmed just under three weeks after Edinburgh’s death – said: “He was a massive part of my journey and he always will be because he changed my mentality towards football and the way I played the game.

“It is because of him that I am sitting here right now.

“When he came in, I was not playing and very low on confidence and he came in and just filled me with confidence.

“He just gave me a platform and made me enjoy football again.

“It was challenging moving once he passed. But everyone at Huddersfield was very good to me and made me feel welcome, so it was not that hard to fit in.”

Still just 21, Koroma has endured several highs and lows during his career to date.

Part of an Orient squad which suffered relegation in 2017 during a chaotic campaign when the club had five managers and ended the season with effectively an Under-18s side, Koroma’s career was resurrected by Edinburgh.

Rewards came down the line by way of a title-winning medal and also a call-up into the England C squad.

Koroma’s first season in Yorkshire represented more of a test, perhaps no great surprise given the step-up, move from his London roots and the loss of someone who was a mentor in his career.

The forward spent the second half of last term at Rotherham United, who were promoted to the Championship in 2019-20.

Now back at Huddersfield, Koroma is keen to start again in many respects.

He added: “I have had a few lows and highs. I have had two promotions and also had a relegation and the passing of a manager. Hopefully, now there are many more highs.

“You cannot waste a season because it is a short career. Every season, whether it is good or bad, you have got to learn from it.

“I liked it a lot at Rotherham. His (Paul Warne’s) philosophy of football is a good one. It was a new one for me, he played more direct and it was good to play like that.

“It was nice to go into a team who were doing well. Unfortunately, my time got cut short there because of the whole virus.”

In comparison to the Millers’ style and that of ex-Town chief Danny Cowley, Carlos Corberan’s philosophy is wholly contrasting.

The Spaniard’s approach pays homage to the ethos of Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, with fluidity, rotation and high intensity being at the core of the Argentine’s principles.

It will take time to implement that style at Town, but it is an approach Koroma has bought into.

He said: “It is a fresh start and a different style of football to what we were playing last year and what I played at Rotherham. I am just excited to get going now.

“I personally prefer the pure football. I want to play football and excite people and it should be a good season.

“I am hoping I can show the fans what I can do.”

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James Mitchinson