By Ben Baker
HE’S 35 and older than his manager, but Jobi McAnuff still has the hunger and desire to achieve success on the pitch.
After being released by Leyton Orient at the end of last season, it looked at one point as though the winger would join Minnesota United.
But, instead of a move to the States, the Jamaica international decided that Stevenage would be the next port of call in a highly-successful career that has seen him play for Wimbledon, West Ham, Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Watford and Reading.
After playing in the Premier League and internationally against the cream – including Argentina’s Lionel Messi – McAnuff could have lost his hunger, but he had no doubt that Stevenage was the right move – and he was particularly impressed with manager Darren Sarll, who is 15 months his junior.
“The move came about because of a close friend of mine, Bradley Pritchard,” explained McAnuff. “He was at Leyton Orient with me, went out on loan last year to Stevenage and came back and spoke highly of the club and the set-up.
“And then, when I got a look at the facilities, I saw for myself they are second to none. They are not just great for a League Two team but also for a team in League One.
“And then there is the manager, with the ambition and drive that comes across straight away, even in my first meeting with him. I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone who knows him to see how well he is doing.
“His passion and determination is great and he won’t settle for anything less than the best. I am glad to be able to contribute to what could be a big season for the club.
“The environment at the club and the facilities are great, and things like that help as you do have to work that little bit harder off the pitch to stay in good shape when you’re older.
“While I am still doing well and enjoying it, I see no reason why I should pack it in just yet.”
A broken toe early in his Boro spell meant a stint on the sidelines and a struggle to get back in the side once fit.
However, since the calendar flipped to 2017, McAnuff has been in fine form, scoring against Exeter last month and again last weekend as unheralded Stevenage beat Portsmouth 3-0 to cement their automatic promotion credentials.
But, while he is hell-bent on adding another promotion to his CV this term – he helped Reading into the Premier League in 2012 – he can’t help but cast a sad look back at former club Orient who, despite surviving a winding-up order on Monday, are still in huge danger.
“When I went to Leyton Orient (in 2014), it was a club full of optimism and ambition having narrowly lost in the play-offs the season before,” said McAnuff.
“They were a club looking to get into the Championship, but three years later they could be going altogether and it is so sad as it is such a lovely little club.
“It is a club with great history behind it and a real name in football, so I just hope things can get resolved as quickly as possible so they can go forward again.”