Steve Cotterill an inspiration for Shrewsbury Town starlet Nathanael Ogbeta

Starlet Nathanael Ogbeta described Steve Cotterill as ‘an inspiration’ after meeting the Shrewsbury boss for the first time on Saturday.

Nathanael Ogbeta of Shrewsbury Town. (AMA)
Nathanael Ogbeta of Shrewsbury Town. (AMA)

Ogbeta, who turned 20 last week, was one of a few January signings who had not seen the manager in person due to his severe battle with Covid-19 over the last four months, writes Lewis Cox.

The first experience of the Town boss for the former Manchester City youngster was during the poignant talk Cotterill gave his players and staff ahead of Saturday’s Oxford game, where he shared the brutal details of his battle with the virus and told his players to appreciate life and the opportunity to play football.

And the Town boss will be back in situ in the directors’ box at Montgomery Waters Meadow against mid-table Ipswich this evening to try to inspire his side to what will be a rare home win in a difficult campaign, for many reasons.

For Ogbeta, the experience of feeling the manager’s presence – rather than hearing his voice over a crackling speaker – was something to behold.

Town’s left wing-back, an England under-20 international, revealed that Cotterill ‘took the mick’ out of his mannerisms over the phone as a way of helping the players feel at ease.

“I like to show I’m listening on the phone, so I’m always like ‘Mmm, mmmmm’, and he was saying ‘Mmm, mmmmm, is that all you’ve got for me!” Ogbeta laughed.

“He gave me a bit of stick for that but he’s a really nice guy, so passionate, you can see his understanding of the game.

“At half-time I was really taken back, he used the whole time to pick things out and show how we can win the game.

“He has really good words that aren’t just applicable for football, but also applicable for life.

“What you do well at the start will continue to get success and it’s applicable to life, doing the right things like working hard and having the right application, you will get success.

“We’ve had good spells and difficult spells, we need to do the right things and we’ll definitely get success in the future.”

Ogbeta has been described as a ‘revelation’ since being plucked from Manchester City’s under-23s in January. He has not missed a minute of the 23 league games played since his arrival.

The youngster added: “That’s what you want, you don’t want a manager that doesn’t care about your game.

“You want someone who encourages you and inspires you to never be satisfied, that’s what Steve brings. You can never rest on your laurels or be complacent. That’s what you want in a manager.

“He told us about his experience, how it was, made us understand the importance of life and how we can’t take anything for granted. I really appreciate his words, it shows how strong he is as a man, he’s an inspiration.”

Town first-team coach David Longwell revealed that, while wins have been difficult to come by in recent weeks – Shrews have lost five from six with one victory at Blackpool enough to mathematically secure safety – the team feel in a good place ahead of Ipswich’s rearranged visit, and that performances have merited more.

Longwell said: “It’s the last home game of the season, with the manager back there, we just want to try to get the win.

“We didn’t deserve to lose at the weekend, even against Lincoln we didn’t deserve to lose. We’re actually doing well within the games, but whatever it may be we’ve lost goals and lost the games.

“But there’s a lot of positivity, we’re playing well and creating opportunity, we just couldn’t turn those last couple of games into wins, where we feel we should’ve done. We go tonight with a good feeling about ourselves.”

Right wing-back Josh Daniels (calf) and midfielder Sean Goss (hamstring) could make their returns from injury tonight.

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