One of the worst kept club secrets ever was confirmed on Friday morning when we finally announced the arrival of striker Offrande Zanzala on a half-season deal – the first incoming action of the January 2021 transfer window.
The 24-year-old has come north determined to make a mark and, when we spoke to him earlier this week, he admitted that he’s looking forward to the challenge of helping the club to maintain its current promotion push.
Speaking first about how the move came about, he told us: “The gaffer has shown quite a lot of interest for a while and he’s been watching my game very closely.
“He’s done his research and he knew quite a lot about me when I spoke to him. I already know a few of the boys from playing with them and against them, so I was happy to get the deal done.
“I just want to help the boys and kick on towards promotion. I’m delighted to have signed and I just can’t wait to be amongst the great things that are happening here.”
“I’ve come here to do one thing, which is score goals to help the team get promoted,” he added. “All any striker wants to do is contribute to the team.
“I’m excited to be coming into a new club, it’s always a good feeling but it’s even better when the team is doing well and you know there’s a great manager and great coaches.
“I’ve done my research and I know the team plays good football, so I feel like I’m going to do well here with the way the team play.
"As a player, you always want to go to a team who are doing well, scoring goals and going for promotion. That’s what you play football for, to win trophies and to make an impact.
“I’m happy to be coming here to accept that challenge. I know it will demand quite a lot mentally and physically, but I’m ready to take that pressure. Good players take pressure and perform under pressure when eyes are on them. I’m happy to have been given that task, to come here and help the team.”
With Chris Beech having confirmed in his announcement quotes that the nippy forward had been on the radar for a while, he told us: “It’s good to know that the manager wants to bring me here because he thinks I can help the team.
“I’ve had great conversations with the gaffer and Gav [Skelton] before I arrived and I’m happy that they believe in me so much. It’s always good to hear that from a manager because you can play football freely and enjoy it.
“I feel like at this stage of my career it’s definitely a step I needed to take, to come to a team where I’ll enjoy myself and I know the manager has got my back.
“Wherever you go you’ve always got to prove yourself, but proving things to yourself is the main thing. Wherever I go, I give my all, that’s who I am as a person.
“I work hard and contribute with goals and play with desire. I feel like wherever I go I can bring something different to the table, and this is a great step for me moving forward in my career.”
The deal sees him stay at Brunton Park until the end of the 2021 campaign and, with 25 games still to go, that leaves plenty of time for the marker to be put down.
“In terms of the length of the contract I think it works for both of us,” he said. “Nothing is to say when we get promoted at the end of the season that we won’t extend things.
“Things can change in football, you’ll never know what the future holds, but I’m excited to come in and be part of this.
“You don’t know what the conversation with the gaffer will be when we get promoted, if I’ve done well the conversation will be different, so I’m looking forward to that.
“I know exactly how it feels to lift a trophy from League Two to get into League One. The atmosphere and buzz it creates around the team is great.
“I already know some of the players here and I want to be part of the vibe that the team have created. There’s no better feeling than having a great changing room where the boys are on fire and playing well. I just want to be part of that and I can’t wait to add to what is already happening here.
“I’ve been made to feel very welcome and the lads have been superb. The sessions I’ve been involved with have been hard and the move has been made easier because I’ve been made to feel like this is home.
“The gaffer has talked to me about how he likes his team to play quick, attacking football and I feel my attributes fit into that really well. I can run in behind and show my strength and pace, and that willingness to score goals and win games.
“I definitely fit into that, and it’s a good foundation for what the gaffer has set out for this team. I’ve watched a few of our games so far this season so I know how the lads play, and it made me smile because I know the way we play will suit how I play.
“I know I can play freely and enjoy my football again, which is important. I’ve seen players come here and do well, and I want to be part of that.”
And knowing some of the group already has got to be an added bonus.
“I know Nick [Anderton] and Callum [Guy] and I’ve played against Aaron Hayden and Rhys Bennett as well as a few other lads,” he explained. “It’s always good when you go into a team where you already know players, it makes it a bit easier to settle in and gel together.
“I played with Callum when I was at Derby, I went to the same secondary school as him so I’ve known him for years. I know what he’s capable of doing and he knows what I’m capable of doing.
“The fact that he’s up there with assists and contributing to goals has definitely made me smile because it’s great for him. Also, there’s no better feeling for a striker to know you’ve got someone like Callum who will put it on a plate for you - it will be my job to go and finish it.
“He’s actually a massive reason why I’m here. The manager must have mentioned me to him and he texted me out of the blue one day. The he started texting every few days to see what I was up to and if I’d decided yet, so he should maybe take up a job in recruitment.”
We’ll have more from United’s new signing on the official website tomorrow.
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