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INTERVIEW: I was like, wow, but I was really happy

Jonathan Dinzeyi on the long trip north

9 September 2021

Defender Jonathan Dinzeyi is another who has had quite the week following his agreement to swap London for Cumbria with just minutes left to spare of the summer transfer window.

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The 21-year-old, who spent his formative years with Spurs before being snapped up by the Gunners, revealed this week that it took him next to no time at all to make the decision that this season-long loan deal was the right thing to do at this stage of his career.

“I wasn’t expecting it to happen at all, but as soon as I heard about it I was delighted, really happy,” he said. “I did have a look on the map when I was told Carlisle were interested and I couldn’t have got much further away!

“I was working out the journey time if I drove or got the train, so I got the train in the end and it was a nice journey actually.

“The window closed on Tuesday the journey was so long, about 3 hours and 50 minutes. I met up with one of the staff when I arrived and they took me to where I was staying.

“The way it happened, it was literally crazy. I had minimal time. I got a text from my agent and he told me that he’d been on the phone to Carlisle, and that they wanted me.

“I was like, wow, but I was really happy. I spoke to the gaffer before coming up here, and I spoke to Gavin as well, and they said some good things. I was really excited because I knew I wanted to be here.”

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Speaking more about his thinking behind the move, he told us: “This is a very good club and I’m obviously speaking to the gaffer all the time.

“He had a big influence in terms of the way he was speaking to me. The players he’s worked with in my position have kick-started and had good careers, and I’m really looking forward to working with him.

“We have a good connection already and it’s good the way he speaks to me in training. It’s the same with Gav and the other members of staff, they’ve really helped me to settle in. The lads are great so it’s all been really good.

“Everyone is so kind and friendly, it’s been superb. I feel like I’ve been here for so long, that’s how comfortable I’ve been made to feel. Everyone’s very welcoming and the lads help you and talk to you, which is also superb.”

But having left his family and support network back in London for the first time for such a prolonged period, we wondered if that was making it tougher to make the switch.

“It’s tough because I’ve been used to being around my family all the time, but I think sometimes in your career you have to take steps like this where you have to grow up and become a man,” he commented. “It gives me a good chance to learn more about myself and new things off the rest of the lads here, which I’ve already been doing.

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“The lads have all been really good with me and have guided me through everything. Training has been good and I’m working hard, so that helps take your mind off any homesickness or anything like that.

“Overall it’s been fine, I haven’t really thought about wanting to go home or anything like that because everyone here has made me so welcome. All I’m doing is focusing on training and on becoming a better player.”

“I’m here to make a mark,” he continued. “I’m really eager and hungry to stake my claim and show everyone what I can do, but I know that could take time and I need to be patient.

“Whenever I get given an opportunity I just have to grab it with both hands. I obviously spoke to the manager before I came up here and he was talking to me about other players he’s worked with who have gone on to do well in their career.

“I just listen to what he says and ask him questions about what he feels I need to improve on and what I can do better. I do the same thing with the other lads in my position, I like to ask questions about how I can be better, and the lads have been really honest with me.

“In every training session I’m fighting to stake my claim and put the gaffer in a position where he has to play me because I’m doing well. If I train well I know I’ll be closer to getting into the team. I know I’ve got to be patient because the lads are doing great and winning games at the moment.

“I know it might be tough for me individually but I’ll keep encouraging the boys to win more games. It’s been a wicked experience so far and I just can’t wait to get an opportunity, once I get that chance I’ll make sure I’m ready to take it.

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“Whatever happens, I’ll always be positive and thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given here. I’m developing different sorts of experiences which will only be good for me and my career.”

Part of his early learning experience here at Brunton Park was getting to see his new teammates first-hand in the home victory over Salford last weekend.

“I enjoyed the atmosphere in the stadium on Saturday,” he said. “The fans are really good and the tempo of the game was really high. I enjoyed watching from the stands, especially because we won, and it was a good chance for me to watch the players in my position and learn from them.

“It’s obviously a different mentality in first team football. Three points are so vital on a Saturday. The win and the points are so important to say many different people, so I think it’s about getting into that habit and make sure that’s what my mentality is.

“You’ve got to block that shot or stop that cross coming into the box because it really matters. That will be something that I think will come from inside naturally because I can see how important it is to everyone around the club.

“Playing in my position, everybody wants to keep a clean sheet. I love clean sheets, I love defending. It hurts if the opposition score and it obviously helps the team win games if we can keep clean sheets.”

But how good is the foundation he’s built in the game with so many years spent with two of the biggest clubs in the country.

“It’s been good so far,” he told us. “Obviously I’ve had my highs and my lows, and looking back I’d say that everything I’ve been through has made me mentally a lot stronger.

“Tottenham didn’t offer me a new deal, then Arsenal gave me an opportunity, so it’s been different emotions, but overall really good. There have been top coaches at both clubs that have helped me to develop and they’ve kept me going through thick and thin.

“I have a lot of thanks to give to both Arsenal and Spurs. It’s been a good journey and having a good support system around me as well, when times haven’t been going my way, when I haven’t been playing or when I’ve been dropped, all of that is important.

“To be honest, it’s been wicked, I’ve worked with some of the best coaches and I’ve been pushed to limits I didn’t know I could be pushed to. Sometimes when you’re younger a coach can do something and you see it as a punishment, or you don’t understand why it’s been done, but as I’ve got older I’ve started to understand why certain things are done in certain ways and I do feel like it’s helped me.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with the coaches at Spurs and Arsenal and obviously it’s impossible not to learn from the players. To be fair, when you’re young and you’re going out to train with the first team, which I did at Spurs and which I’ve done with Arsenal, the players are all so welcoming.

“They speak to you in a great way, and with me I like to speak more to players in my position. At Spurs that was Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, and I’d always be asking them questions.

“With Arsenal I go to David Luiz or Rob Holding and I ask them about all sorts. Overall you just learn so much from these players, so much. That’s all great, but right now it’s about me doing well here and seeing where it takes me.”

And we couldn’t let him go without asking about his England under-18 appearances.

“To play for your country at any level is such a proud moment,” he replied. “I was so nervous when I first went because you’re in a camp with players who are basically the best players in the country in their position.

“Once I played my first game it gave me a lot of confidence and I just want more of that. Morgan Feeney actually helped me when I went to my first proper international call-up.

“He talked to me through the games and in training as well, and knowing he was here meant I knew I had someone I could go to if things get tough for me. He can encourage me and help me to develop as well, so it’s good to see him again.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Jonathan Dinzeyi on iFollow United now.

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