Jobi McAnuff, a former Jamaican international and player/coach with Leyton Orient, was mixing with former English Premier League and Champions League winner Yaya Touré yesterday (24 July).
Photographs of midfield star Touré in Leyton Orient training kit hit social media with aplomb, registering over 10,000 likes on the London-based club’s Twitter handle of @leytonorientfc within an hour of being posted.
Veteran McAnuff, captain of the League Two side, is keen to tackle the forthcoming 2020-21 campaign and put behind him an injury-ravaged season that restricted him to just one appearance – as a substitute against Mansfield Town.
But any thoughts that former Manchester City favourite Touré will be lining up alongside the ex-Reggae Boyz are to be dismissed. The 37-year-old, who last played for Qingdao Huanghai in the Chinese top tier, is only sharpening his fitness with the club for a handful of weeks before he can head overseas once travel restrictions are eased because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Touré’s agent approached Leyton Orient, so the former Ivory Coast international joined up with McAnuff and his team-mates for pre-season training.
Leyton Orient are used to grabbing attention, with England and Tottenham skipper Harry Kane sponsoring his former club’s shirts for the next season. The striker made his senior debut on loan for Leyton Orient in 2011 as a 17-year-old, scoring five goals in 18 appearances.
London-born midfielder McAnuff, who last represented Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz in 2016, is in his second spell with Leyton Orient and helped them win promotion from non-league during the 2018-19 season.
He qualified to play for the Boyz through his Jamaica-born father and kicked off his international career against Nigeria in the 2002 Unity Cup exhibition game held in London, appearing as a 55th-minute substitute for winger Omar Daley.
But McAnuff was surprisingly constantly overlooked by Jamaica for international duty until 2013, when he was plying his trade with Reading in the English Championship. He was spotted by scouts, who were monitoring club team-mates Adrian Mariappa and Garath McCleary, and went on to make 32 appearances for the Boyz.
The 38-year-old was part of the Jamaican squad that captured the 2014 Caribbean Cup on home soil, slotting home a penalty in the shootout at the Montego Bay Sports Complex after the final ended goalless against Trinidad & Tobago, he also made appearances in the trio of Jamaica’s group game at the 2016 Copa América in the United States but his international career has been curtailed.
Having this month signed a one-year extension with Leyton Orient, McAnuff has one more shot at club football and no doubt with the help of the legendary Touré he’ll aim to bounce back as an even better player.
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