Omar Riza is the current Leyton Orient manager and was the 5th manager in a turbulent 2016/2017 season for Orient as the club were relegated out of the League for the first time in their history dropping down from League 2 to the National League.
After 112 years of league football Riza was in a no win no win situation with the club already as good as relegated following the departure of Danny Webb on 30th March 2017. Riza was seemingly a shock choice to replace Webb with no managerial experience whatsoever but promoted from his position at Orient as assistant. It could be seen to be a last ditch attempt try something different by the Italian owners of the club although the majority of the clubs fans saw it as throwing in the towel on league survival before the inevitable was to happen.
There is no way Omar Riza could be blamed for this scenario and he took the team to the end of the season where they finished bottom of the division League 2 and therefore bottom of the whole 92 football club league and ultimate relegation.
Riza was born in Edmonton, London however he did play for the Turkish national B-Team. In the media he is widely regarded as ‘ex Arsenal man Omar Riza yet the relative truth was that he never even played for the Gunners first team in the Premiership. In fact his transfer from Arsenal to West Ham was seen as stepping stone to playing regular first team football for the Hammers but again Riza never played a single first team game for the club either.
Whilst at Arsenal he was loaned out to ADO Den Haag in thee Netherlands where he saw a little bit of action starting 11 games and scoring 3 goals.
He did at least make his debut debut on 2 November 1998 against Derby County in the League Cup and as a substitute he also travelled with the team on away fixtures against Dynamo Kiev and in Greece against Panathanaikos in the Champions league.
With few first team opportunities at Arsenal his signing to West Ham was heralded as a positive move but again Riza was unable to break into the first team. He went on loan to lower league teams Barnet and Cambridge United and signed a permanent deal with the latter in 2002. During the 2002/03 season he at last showed his potential as he scored 17 goals for United, which prompted a move to Turkish side Denizlispor during the 2003 close season. In January 2006, he signed for major Turkish team Trabzonspor, however In January 2008 Rıza walked out of the club claiming he had not been paid something he was to find at Leyton Orient 9 years later.
In February 2009 Rıza returned to English football with a trial at Shrewsbury Town then in League 2.and impressed manager Paul Simpson the man who was to win the World Cup with England Under 20’s as manager in June 2017. However, Rıza could not take part in any official matches due to the ban imposed upon him by the TFF after he walked out on Trabzonspur. The players legal representatives submitted a case to football’s World governing body FIFA I in early April 2009, from which a Swiss judge over-ruled the TFF decision, on 17 April, that Rıza shall be allowed to compete in English football. Rıza made his debut for Shrewsbury Town as a second-half substitute against the mighty Rotherham United the following day.
On 22 January 2010, he left Shrewsbury Town after struggling to break into the first team during the first half of the season, with Rıza and the club coming to an agreement regarding paying off the rest of his contract. On 25 February he joined Aldershot Town until the end of the season. Rıza then joined Histon on a non-contract basis and made his debut against Kettering.He scored his first goal for Histon when he scored a penalty in their league match against Hayes and Yeading United, which turned out to be the winning goal. Due to the financial cost of his wages, Histon released Rıza in January 2012, giving him seven days notice to leave the club.
In February 2012 Rıza signed for Boreham Wood scoring on his debut in a 3–0 win against Maidenhead United On 28 January 2013 he signed for Chelmsford City and scored on his debut on the same day against Dorchester Town in a 4–0 win. He was also named man of the match.
As you can see Omer Riza’s life as a player was colourful with a lot of frustrations and a few high points something that his Orient career as a manager he has replicated in just a few games. He is only 37 and should be given a chance. His passion is certainly there as In his first game as manager, on 1 April, Orient lost 0-2 to Wycombe Wanderersand Rıza was sent to the stands for verbally abusing referee Charles Brakespear. Not the most audacious start to his managerial career but at least it showed his heart is there that others at the club certainly do not have. On 22 April 2017, after losing to Crewe Alexandra, Orient was relegated to the National League however he had managed to steer Orient to surviving over the Easter period with a draw and a win for what was basically an academy team.
He has only managed Leyton Orient for 7 games with 5 defeats and the Easter lifeline of a win and a draw but he at least deserves a chance. Whether he gets one or not under Italian owner Bellotti is another thing.