They are professional sportsmen a generation apart who chose different career paths.

But both Odel and Martin Offiah owe a lot of thanks to the same man, according to the rugby league legend.

Martin was known as Chariots Offiah as his explosive pace brought him 500 tries and an array of honours.

He chose rugby as his sporting love and the 13-a-side code as the one which made it viable when rugby union was still amateur.

His message has always been to do what you most enjoy.

That was why he opted for rugby ahead of cricket after being taken on by Essex.

And why Odel has opted for the round ball as he makes his way with Albion.

Odel added to Carabao Cup minutes at Cardiff early in the season by starting the FA Cup tie at West Brom on Saturday.

Martin said it was strange to hear the Offiah name in a commentary and for it to not be in reference to him on a rugby field.

But a key figure for both of them has been Chike – Odel’s dad and the brother Martin did not meet until he was seven.

Chike was apparently a very good sportsman too but went on to pursue a career in music.

Their father was a lawyer who also wrote books about emotional intelligence.

Chike had to remain in Nigeria during his early years due to the Biafra War while his family settled in London.

Martin told The Argus: “My brother is the main person.

“I give him credit for my own sporting career, if I am honest. He was incredible.

“I only met him when he was seven years old.

“He couldn’t speak English at the age of seven but he went on to pass his 11-plus which got him into a boarding school.

“I wouldn’t have been a rugby player if it had not been for my brother.

“He supported me throughout my career.”

It was quickly obvious Odel also had a love of sport.

Martin said: “Odel was playing rugby and football as a kid.

“I said to Chike, ‘What is he going to do, be a rugby player or a footballer?’.

“He said he liked football and I said, ‘You need to get him into an academy’.

“I knew he was talented and played with adults at the park but he needed to get some coaching and people needed to see him.

“They took him to Bromley and Odel was quite a late starter.

“He tried to get into Crystal Palace and Charlton so Brighton was his third club.

“Then everything has looked up.

“It’s kind of similar with my son Phoenix (who is at Brentford).

“He was playing rugby and has now transitioned into football.

“I’m very much into you should do what you love.

“When I left school, I was a cricketer.

“I was at Essex seconds but I just knew I wasn’t in love with the sport when I fielded all day in my first three-day game.

“Rugby union was an amateur game so you couldn’t make a career out of it.

“Follow your passions and see if you can make those passions commercially viable.

“I think Odel had the love more for football than rugby.

“He was on a Harlequins programme when they came looking for players in south London.

“But football was what he loved to do and I told my brother we needed to get him in the system.”

Martin believes those informal games with grown-ups will have helped given Odel a grounding.

And, of course, he has that famous pace Chariots himself inherited.

Martin added: “Odel comes over and we chuck a ball about.

“When I see clips of him playing now, you can see he is young with room to develop but he is already a bit of a beast.


”He has got that Offiah speed - which I DON’T claim the origins for.

“It was my dad. He was a sprinter.

“Even though we come from quite an academic family, there are some athletic genes as well.

“I’ve got two sons, a 15-year-old and a 12-year old.

“One is a rugby player and one is a footballer.

“Hopefully you are going to see the Offiah next generation!”

A famous surname is not necessarily a bad thing.

We have had it locally in different sports – Martin-Jenkins and Eubank, for example.

Martin said: “If your uncle has got a statue outside Wembley, your name will be noticed.

“It’s like carrying on the brand.

“I’ve seen it with the Cohens (George in football and Ben in rugby – both of them World Cup winners).

“It’s going to get you some attention.

“It was strange for me to hear that name on TV in a sporting sense and it not to be me.

“It was emotional to watch that on Saturday.

“We used to have a go at him about his heading ability but he did a good header and he has obviously improved.

“That’s what he is - very coachable with his temperament.

“When you’re good and you’re young, you might think you know it all.

“But I’m retired and I don’t know it all about rugby.

“He listens to his dad and I’m always texting him after games.

“Not from a football point of view, more from a life point of view.

“All that is out there is exciting now but it doesn’t end.

“You’ve never made it, whatever you do.”