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INTERVIEW: It's all about Sunday

Omari Patrick on the play-offs, overthinking things, focus and always looking to improve

11 May 2023


INTERVIEW: It's all about Sunday

Omari Patrick on the play-offs, overthinking things, focus and always looking to improve

11 May 2023

Winger Omari Patrick made it 100 league appearances for the Blues when he took to the pitch at Sutton on Monday, with the overall tally split almost right down the middle between his two spells with the club.

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He’s netted 20 goals along the way, with the nine he notched from his wide berth last season his best ever campaign return.

“It’s a great milestone and it’s one of the things I thought about when I was younger,” he said. “My college coach used to say that you haven’t made it as a professional until you’ve made a hundred appearances, and here I’ve made that for one club.

“It’s a very proud moment for me. It’s over two spells, and I definitely just try my best in very game. Every time I put on the shirt I know that it’s a pride thing for me to do that, so I’ll just keep trying my best all the time.

“I think I’ve had three different managers here, and that isn’t easy because some play different ways to others. It’s just about adapting, and I have to try to do that to get the best out of myself. If I get picked then I’m obviously getting picked for a reason so, like I say, I’ll be doing the best I can for the team, the manager and myself.”

A player who analyses himself in depth after every performance, he admitted that sometimes thinking too much can become a bit of a burden.

“I definitely do overthink,” he agreed. “Obviously fans are going to have their opinions, but it’s your job as a footballer to try and block it out.

“You also have to keep working on yourself. Lately I’ve been watching lot of the games that we’ve been playing and looking at how I can improve. We all know it’s not my favourite position to play in but if the manager puts you there, he’s done it for a reason.

“I’m always trying to learn new things and how to make myself better. This league is up and down, not every game is the same, you might get some defenders that are vicious and others that stand off a bit, so it’s about trying to be smart and playing to your strengths.”

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Often tagged as a striker, he commented: “I don’t like to be tagged as that because I think it comes with a certain pressure that I’m not used to, and I know that I’m not used to it as well.

“Last season I came back here and scored the most goals in a season that I’ve had so far, but we’ve always had the conversation that if it was the first year I was here, and I was put in the position I am now, it would be like – ah, what’s going on, type thing.

“Obviously when you score goals, that’s what comes with it. They expect you to do it over and over again, just like Denno [Kris Dennis] does. I’m not trying to compete with him, it’s not that simple.

“It is frustrating sometimes but that’s when, as a professional, you’ve got to pick yourself up and try to keep going.”

The Monday game at Sutton was a great example of a player growing into a game as he really started to stretch the home defence after the break, making runs from wide on both sides of the pitch.

“I do try to get to both flanks in every game, especially when we play as a two, but you don’t want to isolate Denno, or whoever it is who starts. I want to help them as much as I can.

“It’s picking and choosing the times to go out, come inside, or whatever will work best when I’m trying to take advantage of us having the ball. Doing that is when I’m most comfortable, but obviously you need to do the nitty gritty part of it and keep working hard to help your strike partner.

“Sometimes you can tell out on the pitch that it’s clicked, and that was how it was in the second half. Whether it was because we changed shape, I don’t know, because there are occasions when I come out for the second half, particularly if I haven’t been happy with the first 45 minutes, and I’m telling myself that I need to bring more to the game.

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“I try to be more confident in putting myself about, and as things go sometimes it doesn’t happen, and you can be frustrated to have to come off, but if it’s the best thing for the team then it’s the right thing.

“I know myself that there are days where I’m not with it, it’s not kicking in for me, and it might be a game for somebody else to get on there and do things. When Edmo or Joe come on, like last week when Joe scored that header, you’re sitting there and you’re buzzing because they’ve done something that you couldn’t quite bring to the table.

“No matter what, it’s always a good thing. If I play 60 minutes, 30 minutes, it doesn’t really matter. As long as the team gets the win, that’s the most important thing.”

Clearly a man who is extremely self-critical, we wondered how much he actually gets inside his own head.

“A lot!” was his immediate response. “Probably sometimes too much. I do try to tame it, and I have had Tobi [Sho-Silva] help me as well, because he knows me really well.

“Before games he tells me that whatever is in my head, I need to write it down before it’s gone. I do write it on a piece of paper and I give it to him, and that helps.

“If I put things out there, as I do on my Instagram stories, if people have seen those, it’s helping other people and it’s helping myself to be better. Maybe it’s as simple as going yep, I’ve read that, it’s gone, now I’m ready for the day rather than just having it stuck in my head all the time.

“But overthinking too much isn’t good. It does help sometimes, but you never know when it’s too much and when it isn’t, because obviously you’re inside your own head and you just don’t always get what you’re doing to yourself. So, yes, I’m definitely an overthinker.”

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Explaining more about the motivational Instagram posts, he said: “It started because everybody in football makes sacrifices, some sacrifices are different to others, so it started for me around 2020 when my grandad passed away.

“I think we had Tranmere away, and that was a game I needed to play, I couldn’t be there at the funeral, so I watched it on Zoom before the game. My best friend sent me these quotes to help me, and that was the first time I got one and put it out there.

“He sent me one every day, just for me to look at, and I thought to myself, do you know what, this is helping me a lot and I think it could help other people. I started to put them on my story every morning and there were some people who really liked it.

“Once I saw the impact it had on others I thought, yep, I’ll carry on. When I get to the end of the pack or box, or whatever, I buy some more and it’s a lucky dip as to which message comes out for each day.

“Another reason for doing it is that I found that when I needed help most, sometimes people aren’t there. And then when people are there you can really feel the difference.

“Obviously you can’t help every single person in the world, some people like it and others don’t, but if you can change just 1% of somebody’s life, or if posting something means you’ve made somebody's day, then that’s a good thing. Again, I just try to do my best.”

Switching back to the football, he spoke about the Monday away draw and the play-off campaign that follows.

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“We were disappointed at the final whistle on Monday because some of us have never been in the play-offs before, and we want to go into it with full confidence and ready to win,” he told us.

“We didn’t get the win at Sutton so we had to pick ourselves back up and remember that we’ve got ourselves into this position. That’s exactly what the gaffer was saying, we’ve got ourselves here and we just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing that got us to this in the first place.

“Like we say, we’d have taken this if we’d been offered it at the start of the season and now I feel that all of the games we’ve had, just get rid of it all, and the big game is on Sunday now. Don’t even think about the second leg yet, it’s about Sunday.

“I’m trying to not overthink this week, I’m just trying to be in the moment. There are too many times where you don’t enjoy things properly and don’t just be in the moment. I want to enjoy training with the lads, have laughs and smiles together, not be too serious, and that’s because I feel that when this group is a bit too serious it might go the other way.

“We need to take it in our stride and do what we do best, which is play football. A 7pm Sunday kick off is a bit different, you have to prepare differently, but it’s also nice for the families to be at home for the Sunday.”

“And there’s going to be nearly 2,500 fans there as well,” he continued. “The home fans can be very loud at Bradford and to see that we have so many of our own fans, being just as loud, it’s a credit to them.

“They’ve supported us home and away all season, they’ve been excellent, so it’s good to put the shirt on and go and do it for those people out there. “

He does have a section of the Bradford fans who tend to say hello to him in a special way.

“It used to get to me but for me it’s all done now,” he said. “They can say what they want, it won’t affect me. That’s the beauty of football, I was there and now I’m not. Some people still like me, some hate me, it is what it is.

“I’m there to do a job for the team I’m playing for and that’s it. What we all need to get into our heads is that the 46 games have gone, it’s about these next two now. Even the supporters, just forget about everything that’s happened – it’s a brilliant season to be in this position that we’re in right now, but on Sunday it’s 90 minutes of football.

“After that we want to be in a better position to play them in the second leg and, whatever the score is, the tie isn’t done. That’s what we need to focus on.

“Games like this are what you want. When you’re a kid you don’t think about fame or money when you’re playing football. You just want a big crowd, for your family to see you on TV, and for them to be able to say that’s my son or daughter, so it’s definitely a proud moment and I can’t wait to get started.”

But how hard is it not to find yourself thinking about walking up those famous steps to lift the trophy?

“That’s what I’m trying not to do,” he insisted. “I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, but obviously it’s in the back of your head that it’s what you want.

“It’s always good to dream but, at the moment, I’m trying not to dream too much because I know I can overthink it, just like we spoke about.

“I guess it’s different for every individual, some people might see themselves at Wembley right now, some people will just be looking to Sunday, or even at the second leg. Whatever gets you going, just do that and we’ll be alright.”


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