4:40pm Wednesday 30th January 2013
FORMER Arsenal striker Omer Riza sent a scorching 30-yard drive into the top corner on Monday night to mark his Chelmsford City debut in their 4-0 thumping of Dorchester Town, then suggested he’d liked to have joined the Clarets sooner after a frustrating spell on the bench at former club Boreham Wood.
Glenn Pennyfather’s men made it six points from six over a four-day period which included a 12-hour round trip either side of Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Truro City, including an overnight stay on Friday.
They followed it up with a superb display against Dorchester at Melbourne, strengthening their position in fifth.
Riza had linked up with the club just hours before and he wasted no time introducing himself to the fans, putting his new side 2-0 up in the 28th minute.
That was an important moment for the striker, who’d been keen to move on from his last Blue Square Bet South club for some time.
“I went to Boreham Wood as a first team player, and my record showed I’d scored goals – I think 19 or 20 goals in 40 games,” he explained.
“But things didn’t quite work out between myself, the chairman and the coaching staff. They weren’t happy with my performance, I suppose, so I’ve had to move on.
“But, if you’d asked me at the beginning of the season where I’d want to play, Chelmsford would have been one of the top teams. They’re always up there, they’re always pushing for promotion and they’ve got a strong squad. Hopefully now we can go on and really cause a lot of teams a lot of problems.”
Pennyfather was delighted with his new acquisition, naming him as man of the match, and Riza explained he shares the same goals as his new boss: “It’s nice that I’ve always had quite good debuts, provided I’m used the right way and I’m put out there to play my own game.
“I’ll always go and score and create opportunities for teams. I’m glad to be here, we’ve got a great result, they’re a great set of lads and staff and I’ve only got one thing on my mind – that’s to get promotion. I’ll be doing everything I can for that to happen”
Riza started his career as a youth with the Gunners and made his first team debut in 1998.
During his time there he travelled with the squad on away fixtures against Dynamo Kiev and Panathinaikos as a substitute in the UEFA Champions League, one of few players at Conference South level who can boast such an achievement.
He recalled: “Growing up from the age of eight and nine playing for Arsenal and carrying that through to the age of 20, being fortunate enough to get into the first team and play with them, was obviously a great honour.
“I’ve had a great upbringing and I like to think that all the professionalism I have now is down to being at Arsenal for that period of time.”
During 1998/99 he went on loan to Dutch side ADO Den Haag before moving to West Ham United the next season.
He had loan spells at Barnet and Cambridge United and eventually signed a permanent deal with the latter, scoring 17 goals in 2002/03 which prompted a move to Turkish side Denizlispor, then Trabzonspor.
Riza said: “Denis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars put me forward to their agent and I went out to Den Haag for three months. I did well out there, in Turkey in the Super League. It was another learning curve for me, but it was a good level.”
His next opportunities to find the next will be on Saturday and Monday when the Clarets look forward to home games against Hayes & Yeading United and Billericay Town. Chelmsford then have Monday night games at Melbourne for the following two weeks as they attempt to claw back their games in hand.
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