Memory came alive about retired Nigerian-born Scottish international, Chris Iwelumo on Sunday, as two of his former clubs clashed in the Scotland’s FA Cup semi-final, with Jonathan Obika spending 90 minutes on the losing side’s bench.
Megasportsarena.com reports that at opposing ends were Saint Mirren, where Iwelumo started his career, and Saint Johnston, his second to last club during an edifying career, thereby causing commentators to keep mentioning his name as the match dragged on.
Born in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire to a Nigerian father and Scottish mother, Iwelumo started his career with St Mirren in their youth system before signing a professional contract on August 5, 1996.
Iwelumo had only made 19 appearances for St Mirren, with two goals to show – against Berwick in the Scottish League Cup and Dundee in the Scottish Cup – before Aarhus Fremad of Denmark signed him up in early 1998.
However, Aarhus released him two years later in February 2000 and he had trials at Preston North End of England and Glasgow Celtic of Scotland – the team he supports – before signing a four-year deal with another English club, Stoke City.
On 3 June 2013, Iwelumo joined English League Two side Scunthorpe United on a year’s deal, but he spent only six months before joining St Johnstone on January 23, 2014 and was an unused substitute when they won the 2014 Scottish Cup.
He joined Conference Premier side Chester on June 30, 2014 but announced his retirement from football on October 28, 2014 – 12 years after he had been called up for Scotland’s tour of South Korea in 2002 but had to withdraw as his club Stoke City were involved in English Championship play-offs.
In November 2007, he was named in Scotland’s B-team for a friendly against Republic of Ireland B and played in the 1–1 draw, after which he was called up to the full squad for a 2010 World Cup qualifier against Norway at Hampden Park on October 11, 2008.
He entered that game for his Scottish national team full debut as a 57th-minute substitute, but his performance was overshadowed by his open goal miss from three yards out and the game went on to end goalless.
Dramatically, memories of that miss returned to the fore on Sunday, as Glenn Middleton’s second-half star cameo ensured St Johnstone remain on course for a trophy double as they beat St Mirren 2-1 to claim a place in the Scottish Cup final.
The winger, who is on loan from Glasgow Rangers, had only been on the park seven minutes when he set-up Chris Kane’s opener, then struck again two minutes later, sweeping home a free-kick to ensure Callum Davidson’s men will be back at Hampden on May 22 to face Hibernian as they look to add to their Betfred Cup triumph.
They had further salt rubbed into their wounds as they saw a strong penalty appeal waved away before missing a string of golden chances – including substitute Collin Quaner’s best impression of Iwelumo at the Mount Florida end.
Durmus tied Rooney in knots again before throwing over a sublime low cross but from the same spot where Iwelumo famously blew an open goal against Norway back in 2008, the German also somehow fired wide from point-blank range.
Quaner fluffed another huge chance as he nodded wide at the front post but McCarthy did give Saints a lifeline as he headed home from Jamie McGrath’s free-kick with four minutes left and St Johnstone held on for victory.