Hakeem Odoffin says he is ready to make the step up to becoming a serious player in senior football after signing for the Cobblers.
The 20-year-old this week put pen to paper on a deal to join Town, just weeks after being released by Premier League-bound Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Odoffin does have some experience of men’s football, having made two appearances for Barnet as a 17-year-old, one in the FA Cup and one in the League, and then spending six months on loan at non-League Eastleigh in the 2016/17 campaign, playing 21 times.
But he spent the whole of last season playing in the Under-23 system for Wolves, and after seeing his stint brought to an end at Molineux, believes now is the time for him to make his mark at senior level.
“I have done men’s football, and I have had that experience with a lot of good players at Wolves, and I can’t thank them enough there,” said Odoffin.
“All the people at Wolves are great people, and I have left there on good terms, but I am excited to get this chance to show that I can play regular first team football, and I am ready to do that.”
I have known a lot about Northampton, I used to play them when I was a youth, and when i was at Barnet, so I know how big a club it is. I know the supporters here are really good, and I just can’t wait to get startedCobblers defender Hakeem Odoffin
So how did the move to the Cobblers come about?
“It feels like it has been a long time coming if I am honest, but I am happy that it has got done, and I am excited to get started,” said the former Tottenham Hotspur youth product.
“I have known a lot about Northampton, I used to play them when I was a youth, and when i was at Barnet, so I know how big a club it is.
“I know the supporters here are really good, and I just can’t wait to get started.”
Indeed, Sixfields, or the PTS Academy Stadium as it is now known, holds a very special place in the heart of Odoffin.
It was at the home of the Cobblers that Odiffan made his Football League debut, coming on as a 72nd-minute substitute against Chris Wilder’s title-chasing Town on January, 2, 2016.
The Bees were already 3-0 down when the then 17-year-old was handed his chance, and he played his part in the north Londoners at least restricting the damage any further as there were no further goals.
It is to date his only appearance at League level, but he is hoping there are going to be many, many more over the coming weeks, months and years.
“I remember coming on as a substitute, and just thinking how big the stadium was! I felt like a little kid,” beams Odoffin when asked about that League debut.
“This place is a special one for me, because when it is your first game it means a lot.
“I am excited to be here, I am excited to play more games here, and I am looking forward to the season.
“I feel very good physically. I have done tests here and there, and I have done well in them, so I am just ready to get started and to start playing football. I can’t wait.”
Despite his association with two of Dean Austin’s former clubs, Spurs and Reading, Odoffin has never worked under the Cobblers boss.
But he did meet up with Austin before agreeing to join Town, and admits he was impressed by the man who is now his manager.
“I haven’t worked with him before, but I have spoken with him and it has been really good doing that,” said Odoffin, when asked about Austin.
“He seems like the type of manager that you want to work for, and want to do well for, and I feel like he has a real idea and philosophy about what he is trying to do to the club, and I think he can do well.
“The players we have here, the manager we have, the atmosphere, everything is going towards us having a good season.
“It is just about getting started, doing the right things and staying focused.”
Odoffin was faced with a room full of strangers when he turned up for training for the first time at Moulton College this week, having no previous ties with any of the Town squad.
But he expects to settle in very quickly, with the training camp in Alicante in Spain next week a great chance for him to get to know the Town players, and for them to get to know him too.
“It will be a set of new players but I am excited about that, and I am ready for that,” said a relaxed Odoffin.
“I have already heard that all the boys are great, so I am looking forward to meeting them all and getting that relationship started, and I will be fine.”