When 22-year old striker Razak Omotoyossi signed for Helsingborgs IF in February, he was by no means proclaimed as the new fans' hero.
Foreign imports have had a mediocre record in the Allsvenskan recently, and a Benin player arriving from Moldovan club FC Sherriff did not produce the same excitement as the previous year's capture of Henrik Larsson. Although Omotoyossi made a slow start to life in Sweden, his partnership with Larsson has since blossomed. He was the joint-top league scorer this season along with IFK Göteborg's Marcus Berg on 14 goals and Omotoyossi's tally of six in the UEFA Cup is the best in the competition.
Helsingborg have already booked a Round of 32 place, and victory at FC Girondins de Bordeaux tonight would clinch top spot in Group H. Omotoyossi shares the credit with his experienced strike partner. "Henrik is a great player. He's got a lot of experience and to play alongside him and listen and learn from him has helped me a lot," he said. "My goal is to play in a bigger league next season, but if that doesn't happen I'll do my best to play even better next season."
Already Omotoyossi has been identified by Italy's Guerin Sportivo magazine as one of the world's 50 best football talents, and he showed why last week with two goals in the 3-0 defeat of FK Austria Wien that ensured Helsingborg were the first team through from the group stage. The first was a chip over the goalkeeper, the second a perfect header which confirmed his ability to be in the right place at the right time.
Larsson certainly rates his colleague. "He's improved a lot during the season," the veteran said. "Now he plays with both one and two touches, instead of doing everything on his own. He's become more of a team player but he's also a very good striker. He's not reached his full potential yet." Whether Omotoyossi remains at Helsingborg when the knockout phase begins is unclear. "I don't know what's going to happen, but as long as I work and as long as God is on my side anything can happen," he said.
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