Widdowson enjoys home comforts
PUBLISHED: 17:00 04 June 2015
Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football Leagu
Defender glad to be back playing in London after spells up north
Joe Widdowson revealed he is delighted to be playing football close to home after agreeing a new two-year deal to remain with Dagenham & Redbridge.
The 26-year-old grew up in Forest Gate, attending St Stephen’s Primary School in East Ham, and came through the ranks of the West Ham United youth academy.
Widdowson left the Hammers in 2009 and has since represented Grimsby Town, Rochdale, Northampton Town, Bury and Morecambe all in the Football League.
But the left back returned to east London in November, initially joining Daggers on loan before signing a contract until the end of the season in January.
Widdowson has now extended his stay with the Victoria Road outfit and says being close to home influenced his decision to remain with the League Two club.
“It’s brilliant to be back in the local area and it was a big factor in signing a new deal. It’s nice to be back having played quite far away in recent years,” he said,
“Growing up in Newham was good. I used to play a lot of football at school and with my mates as well.
“I learnt a lot about the game from growing up in the borough and it has produced a lot of good footballers over the years.”
While most footballers are currently on the beach and relaxing ahead of the start of pre-season training this month, Widdowson has been spending time at Staffordshire Univeristy.
The defender is currently enrolled on the Professional Sports Writing and Broadcasting degree, with course alumni including footballer-turned-presenter Scott Minto and former PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle.
Widdowson may still only be in his mid-20s but he says his time at university is helping him to plan for a life after football.
“I’m really enjoying it. It’s a possible career once my playing days are over but I find it really interesting,” he added.
“I really enjoyed writing while I was at school but I also find it fascinating learning about the media.”
One problem often encountered when starting at any educational institution is making new friends quickly, but for Widdowson this was never a problem.
Also in the classroom in Stoke-on-Trent is fellow former Hammer Jack Collison, the pair having played for the club’s academy in their youth.
“It’s nice being alongside someone like Jack because we grew up together at West Ham. We’ve both had footballing careers and experiences but we’re trying to broaden our horizons outside the game too.”
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