Kayode Odejayi: Chelsea's FA Cup slayer in 2008

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Kayode Odejayi only scored four goals for Barnsley during the 2007/08 season, but one of them knocked a Chelsea side featuring John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka and Joe Cole out of the FA Cup in a famous giant-killing.

Barnsley had already pulled off the unthinkable once that by beating Liverpool at Anfield in the previous round, but Chelsea were a different beast altogether.

Barnsley v Chelsea - FA Cup 6th Round
Chelsea named a strong side against Barnsley in 2008 | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

This was legitimately once of the best teams in Europe at the team, who pushed one of the greatest Manchester United sides ever to the wire in both the Premier League and Champions League.

Avram Grant rotated his strongest team slightly and there was no Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, Ashley Cole or Didier Drogba, but even Chelsea’s replacements were proven winners. Shaun Wright-Phillips and Wayne Bridge had won Premier League titles, Juliano Belletti scored in a Champions League final and Carlo Cudicini was still a top calibre Premier League goalkeeper.

Odejayi had been noticed playing non-league football for Forest Green Rovers and earned a transfer to Cheltenham in 2003. He was a striker of reasonable note in League Two and League One, moving up to Barnsley for £200,000 in 2007. But the Championship was a level too far.

By the time Barnsley faced Chelsea, Odejayi had gone 29 games without a goal. Yet it was he who rose highest above Cudicini to meet a back post cross midway through the second half, giving Barnsley, then struggling to out the of the Championship relegation zone, the most unlikely of leads.

Barnsley's Nigerian forward Kayode Odeja
Odejayi only scored four goals all season in 2007/08 | ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

BBC’s match report described Odejayi as a ‘huge nuisance’ to Chelsea. Despite his disappointing form in the league, the FA Cup proved once again to the great leveller in English football and he was giving Terry and Carvalho the run around at Oakwell.

Odejayi couldn’t repeat his heroics in the semi-final against Cardiff, although he did net a brace against Watford in a Championship game a few days later, his third and fourth of the season.

That May, having hit headlines around the world because of his winner against Chelsea, Odejayi even made his international debut for Nigeria in a friendly against Austria.

Kayode Odejayi
Odejayi in action for Accrington in League Two | Pete Norton/Getty Images

He scored only once more for Barnsley after that and dropped back down to League One with Colchester in 2009 and then to League Two with Rotherham in 2012. Further spells in the bottom EFL division came with Accrington and Tranmere, before Odejayi returned to non-league football with Stockport County and finished his career back in Yorkshire with Guiseley in 2018.

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