Interview: Former Shrewsbury Town and Arsenal Striker Omer Riza

This article is more than 1 year old. Please read this page keeping its age in mind.

In an exclusive interview, former Shrewsbury Town striker Omer Riza reveals his thoughts on the ongoing legal case against the Turkish Football Federation.

His name has a certain je ne sais quoi – and Omer Riza also possessed the footballing abilities to back it up.

A career at the one of the best clubs in Europe seemed destined for the now 39-year-old, when he began his journey at Arsenal.

He made his debut in a League Cup clash against Derby County in November 1998, and would go on to travel with the squad for Champions League games against Dynamo Kiev and Panathinaikos.

But competition for places at Arsenal was extremely tough to say the least, with world renowned stars such as Nicholas Anelka, Dennis Bergkamp, and Ian Wright all on the playing staff.

But the enigmatic Riza is confident in his convictions that he should have been given more opportunities at the Gunners.

Speaking exclusively to Shropshire Live, Omer Riza said: “I feel that I was mistreated by certain individuals that had an impact on the decisions being made.

“I was young and impatient but ready to play. I remember Don Howe (then Arenal youth manager) saying to me, “you’re ready to go over regularly and get your opportunity.”

“Arsene Wenger was great, I spoke to him a couple of months ago whilst playing in a charity match, it was nice to catch up and hear him talk about what kind of player I was.”

But it is clear that despite his admiration for Arsenal’s greatest ever boss, Riza was unhappy with his time at the North London outfit.

He revealed in an interview with Planet Football: “There were players like Kaba Diawara, Fabian Caballero, and Christopher Wreah ahead of me when I don’t think they should have been.

“Wenger told me to be ready for the following season, but then I was told there were calls coming in for me from lots of clubs.

“If Arsenal wanted me to stay, why were they telling me about all these calls? I was being told different things, so I was confused.”

It became relatively clear following a loan spell with Dutch side ADO Den Haag, that it was time to move on.

He joined West Ham United, but found the same problems there that were present at Arsenal; with Paolo Di Canio, Paulo Wanchope, and Freddie Kanoute all vying for spots in the first team.

Riza spent time on loan at Barnet and Cambridge, before signing for the latter on a permanent basis in 2002.

It was at the Abbey Stadium where the Edmonton born striker’s career took off. He netted 20 times in 46 matches, which prompted Turkish team Denizlispor to snap up his services.

However, whilst plying his trade with Trabzonspor, Riza walked out of the club in January 2008 stating that he had not been paid, which led to the Turkish Football Federation banning him from featuring for any club.

He said: “The ban implemented by the Turkish Football Federation was totally against my rights, it’s been a lengthy court process and is still ongoing.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, it damaged my career, I still feel that with more time and opportunity I would have become an important player for Shrewsbury as I felt good – there’s only so much that you can do as a bit-part player unfortunately.

“I loved it at the club, it was nice to back from Turkey after a lengthy ban and it was nice to get going again.

“It was a shame I couldn’t really find or hold down a spot in the team, but Paul Simpson had other ideas and I had to respect that. It’s a great club with great people.”

Despite joining Town in February 2009 following a successful trial period, Riza did not make his debut until appearing as a second half substitute against Rotherham in April 2009.

Riza would go on to make just 13 appearances for Shrewsbury, without scoring a league goal, but the ban imposed by the Turkish Football Federation undoubtedly had an impact on his ability to shine for the club.

He would go on to feature for various non-league outfits including Boreham Wood and Histon.

But having played for top-flight clubs across Europe, the transition to non-league football was always going to be a struggle.

Speaking to Football Planet Riza said that “Conference football wore me down,” before adding to us: “It was difficult in the sense of not quite being in the same wave length as most players, and the game becoming much more complicated because players sometimes did too much.

“In general, I see it as part of the pathway to becoming coach/manager.”

Following a spell in charge of Cheshunt, Riza took the bold decision to take charge of crisis-hit Leyton Orient.

Under the stewardship of controversial owner Francesco Becchetti, Orient were in disarray with staff not being paid and fans left in the dark.

Despite Riza’s best effort in his seven games in charge, Orient were relegated to non-league for the first time in their 112-year history.

But Riza still looks back fondly on his time at Brisbane Road, calling it a “very enjoyable time, despite the difficult circumstances.”

He now coaches at Premier League side Watford. Speaking of his role at Vicarage Road, Riza added: “Watford is going well – lots of work with the 15-16 age groups and above.

“There is a great staff spirit and the club is doing well. It’s nice to be reunited with Andre Gray who I was with at Salop.

“He’s doing very well and it’s nice to see him every day, progressing his career. I’m currently U15’s coach with England as well, so overall I’m very happy with how my progression in the game is going.”

Supporting Shropshire Live...
Ryan Hillback
Ryan Hillback keeps us updated on match previews and reports as well as all the big Shrewsbury Town Football Club news.
Advertise with us for £50 per week

Advertisement Features

Cartwrights provide a convenient waste disposal solution

Do you need a skip or trade waste disposal solution? With a modern fleet of over 20 vehicles and a dedicated customer-focused team, Cartwrights can provide the service you need.
PPE in a box is designed to help keep your business operating at peak efficiency while providing the added layer of safety

Mail order PPE kits and COVID-19 testing to keep businesses operating

My Occ Health, in partnership Summerfield Healthcare, has produced a must-have mail-order kit of PPE supplies which can be delivered to businesses.
- Advertising -
Advertise with Shropshire Live for £50 per week

Firefighters called to river rescue in Shrewsbury

Firefighters were called to help rescue a person from the River Severn in Shrewsbury last night.
A view of Church Stretton from The Burway

New Church Stretton Shuttle Bus Service launches

A free Shuttle Bus Service around Church Stretton and into Carding Mill Valley will launch today to help the town manage the volume of visitors arriving by car.

Human remains found in search for Judy Fox

Human remains have been found in the search for Judy Fox from Shifnal after concerns were raised for her welfare last month.
Players enjoying tennis at Shrewsbury Lawn Tennis Club

Membership numbers rise for Shropshire tennis clubs

Tennis clubs across Shropshire have seen membership numbers rise since the sport was given the green light to resume in May.
Telford Tigers 2020/21 home and away kit

Telford Tigers reveal 2020/21 kit

Telford Tigers have revealed their 2020/21 kit designs for both the home and away regular season shirts.
Oakley James from Redhill one of the tennis contest, winners

Winners of Shropshire’s ‘virtual’ school games are revealed

The winners of Shropshire’s first ever ‘virtual’ primary school games have been revealed.
- Advertising -

Shropshire Chamber reveals its ‘Chamber Champion’ award finalists

The finalists have been announced for a new Shropshire Chamber awards competition to celebrate the incredible support shown by Shropshire during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Richard Partington, managing director of Telford-based AceOn Energy

Shropshire renewable energy company welcomes £3billion ‘green investment’ funding programme

The managing director of a pioneering renewable energy company today welcomed the Chancellor’s £3billion ‘green investment’ funding programme to help the economy recover from the impact of lockdown.
David Hayward, Director

Telecoms firm rebrands following buyout

A Shropshire telecoms company has undergone a rebrand after a buyout - but clients can still rely on the same team and same award-winning services they have been used to.
Proceeds donated will go to five Shropshire charities: including The Cavalier Centre

Shropshire Virtual Show to raise vital funds for local charities

An exciting new online event celebrating the best of Shropshire and raising money for local good causes is taking place this summer.
: Matt Martin and Sam Whitney with Hannah Gamston at Severn Hospice, Shrewsbury

Bridgnorth cricket club in global fundraiser for Severn Hospice

Following the Covid-19 pandemic cancellation of the annual Bridgnorth Walk, in which the town’s cricket club always enter a fundraising team, two enterprising club members came up with an alternative event to raise funds for their chosen charity and gained surprise support from across the world.

Cartwrights provide a convenient waste disposal solution

Do you need a skip or trade waste disposal solution? With a modern fleet of over 20 vehicles and a dedicated customer-focused team, Cartwrights can provide the service you need.
- Advertising -

Severn Valley Railway to reopen for daily passenger services from August

Severn Valley Railway will reopen for daily passenger services from Saturday 1 August with a range of excursions aimed at bringing families together for an enjoyable day out.
hatfields 90s revival

Big finish for the 90’s Revival weekly lockdown live shows

Two well known Shropshire DJ’s are bringing their Facebook live weekly 90's music sessions to an end with one last live party this Saturday.
Step Back to the 1940s at the SVR. Photo: Paul Hastie

Severn Valley Railway to hold virtual 1940s event

The group behind the SVR’s ever popular Step Back to the 1940s events has come up with an exciting alternative in the face of this year’s cancellations.
Hickory’s Smokehouse in Shrewsbury

Hickory’s Smokehouse to reopen this Friday

BBQ is firmly back on the menu as Hickory’s Smokehouse in Shrewsbury reopens this Friday 10 July.
The Railwayman's Arms in Bridgnorth. Photo: Tony Bending

SVR’s historic Shropshire pub set to reopen

The Railwayman’s Arms at the Severn Valley Railway’s Bridgnorth station is set to reopen on Saturday 4 July.
Donna Miles and David Cheshire pictured being handed their new lease by Wellington Mayor Anthony Lowe

New lease of life for Wellington café

A Wellington café which has been thriving during lockdown has secured its future with a new five-year lease.
- Advertisment -

Advertisement Features

Weather

Shropshire
overcast clouds
17 ° C
17.8 °
16 °
59 %
3.6kmh
100 %
Sat
17 °
Sun
19 °
Mon
17 °
Tue
16 °
Wed
18 °
- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -

Latest Articles

- Advertisment -