Collins John was known as a fast, strong and deadly finisher as a teenager but his career has petered out. Now the former Fulham, Leicester and Watford striker has returned to England, with one of the Football League's basement clubs, Barnet. Can he save them, once again, from the non-league trapdoor?
It is a sad fact when one of English football’s most established clubs appears to be systematically falling away. For the past few seasons this has been the case at North London side Barnet. Last year they staved off relegation late on, with the help of top-scorer Izale Mcleod.
However with Mcleod now at Portsmouth The Bees are once again staring at the Football League trapdoor. Their history has been one of flirting with non-league and football league status including the last three seasons, which has seen their League Two status come down to the final day of the season. While they currently have talented individuals Graham Stack, John Oster and Jonathan Fortune it seems there latest roll of the dice in the transfer market could also prove to be a lifesaving coup.
As a side with a reputation for fast-paced, attacking football full of flair and unpredictable eccentricity then the fit with incumbent signing Collins John is highly visible. When Mark Robson was brought in to Underhill, a ground more synonymous to Arsenal youth and reserve fixtures in recent years, he was charged with the added responsibility of developing the youth system at The Hive, Barnet’s training facility.
The club have a healthy list of former youth team products and local non-league pick-ups with Dougie Freedman, Marlon King, Jason Puncheon and Maik Taylor fine examples. Collins therefore can act as an example of how not to develop your career from exceptional youth standards.
His upbringing was difficult, his father murdered during the Liberian Civil War before he arrived in Holland, his adoptive home. His brothers Ola and Paddy are also professional footballers, the former of which has recently signed for Benfica; but Collins was the real talent.
When Fulham snapped him away from FC Twente in a deal worth £600,000 by then manager John Collins, his reverse namesake, it seemed a snip when he started to fire in all manner of goals.
Since then however his off-field troubles have plagued his career as he has travelled from Belgium to Iran via the United States and Azerbaijan in pursuit of career resurrection, which he will now seek back in London.
At the end of the day he was a member of the Dutch side that won the European under-21 championship in 2006 along with Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Ron Vlaar and Michel Vorm. He had already made his senior debut before that time, winning four caps as a teenager in 2004 among company such as Ruud Van Nistlerooy, Patrick Kluivert and a young Wesley Sneijder.
And if he can produce moments like the volley he smashed home against Middlesbrough during his time at the Cottage then we may see him popping up on the Sky Sports vide-printer very soon.
What do you make of Collins John’s impending debut?
image: © Patrick de Laive