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Interviews

INTERVIEW: I feel like I'm a Cumbrian

Dynel Simeu on his very enjoyable stay

6 May 2022

Defender Dynel Simeu will feature for the last time for the Blues at Bradford on Saturday afternoon as his half-season loan spell at the club draws to a close, and it’s fair to say that he’ll head back to Southampton with a bag full of best wishes having taken his stay up north to his heart.

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Committed performances and bonkers celebrations from the 20-year-old, mixed with more than a smattering of blossoming talent along the way, have seen him build up a strong relationship with the United faithful, so we sat down with him to get his thoughts before the packing starts in earnest for the long trip home.

“I’ve loved my time here, it’s been a massive rollercoaster, but I know it’s going to be significant in the journey I hope to go on,” he said. “I’m not sure why things have been like this, but I think it helped that I embraced the journey.

“I took it on board that I wanted to fit in as much as I could because I know that some players come and it’s just like they’re passing by.

“I tried to give my all and help the lads whenever I could, in meetings and stuff like that, and I wanted to interact and become a Cumbrian, really.”

And he admitted that the positive feeling that surrounded almost his every move had made the work he had to do on the pitch that much easier.

“It’s been amazing,” he told us. “When things work off the pitch it makes it easier on the pitch. There’s less stress because you know you’ve got people to help you with whatever is happening outside of the football.

“Having that really has made things a whole lot easier. I’ve learned so much and I’ve enjoyed it, which is the most important thing.

“I’ve had the game time, which I’ve needed, and it’s not always easy to get that. I’m thankful to the manager for that, and to Keith Millen for bringing me here.

“It’s been amazing that it’s all gone so well, and hopefully I can carry on getting games going forward.

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“I think I’ve developed a lot and I wouldn’t say that my game has changed, but I’ve taken on tips and advice.

“I’ve learned how to deal with situations and with pressure, I’ve been exposed to the real men’s game, and I’ve picked up some new tricks.

“It’s about dealing with different strikers that you come up against and the way you deal with different games. It’s all been really good for me because it’s the total opposite of what I was dealing with before.

“I was used to being bigger than everybody else at 23s level, so being out of my comfort zone has really helped.

“To develop properly you need to be tested, and I wasn’t going to lie and say I knew what to do if I came up against a 6ft tall striker, but now I can say it because I’ve done it and I know what to do.

“I know I have to respect the player but also that I have to play my game, and not rely so much on my strength and power, which was fine in the under-23 team.”

With 18 appearances under his belt, it hasn’t all been plain sailing with results and performances hard to come by through the early part of his spell.

“That’s football, it just wouldn’t be real if we won every week. There are people who have their opinion, and that’s fair enough, and that tends to happen when the team isn’t doing well.

“It’s important to keep your identity and to stay together as a team through the whole process. Obviously we had a change of manager, but I think it’s in the changing room that it’s where it starts.

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“Like I say the fans can give you stick, but it’s football. You can’t blame them and overall it’s been good.

“When you go out to play for any team it’s a platform to show what you can do. The individual awards are just rewards for the hard work which goes on within the team.

“It’s doing it as a team that helps you to shine and I feel it’s about me continually showing how much of a good player I can be by being as consistent as I can be.”

The one thing missing from the last four months - the cherry on the icing on the cake, so to speak - has been a goal.

“It would be lovely – and we’ve got one game to go, so who knows what can happen,” he said. “I’d love a goal and I don’t know what I’d do if I scored, but it would be superb.

“It would be a good way to go, and I have to be honest and say that going back to Southampton will feel weird, because it’ll be the first time doing it when I haven’t left my car here.

“Honestly, I’ve almost felt like a Cumbrian from the moment I got here and embraced the journey. I get messages off people all the time, and I get spotted out and about and people come up to me.

“They’re so nice and warm towards me, and very respectful, and I’ve always said that up north the people are different to down south.

“They’re very open and they’re not afraid to approach you, which is really good. I’ll really miss that. I do feel like I’m a Cumbrian so it’s going to be weird going back home. Who knows, one day I might come back.”

There was the ‘in’ we needed to ask the obvious question – any chance next season?

“I’ve actually not thought about it yet,” he insisted. “I just take it day by day because it isn’t over yet. I’ve spoken to the guys at Southampton about what’s next and no one knows at the moment.

“That’s what is so exciting about football, it’s always about what’s next. It’s almost like when I was coming here, I found out within a few days and it was really exciting.

“It’s another adventure, another challenge, so I’m just open to whatever is best for me and my career in the long-term, and not being too focused on the now. It’s about what will benefit me.”

“This club has been a big part of my journey,” he said. “It’s not somewhere where I’ve just passed by, it’s a place I’ve loved and I’ve enjoyed being here.

“I think I’ll look back in a few years and see how significant it’s been. I think this is what I needed at this time in my career and I’m very grateful for everything that came with it.

“I just want to say thank you to the fans and to everyone who has supported us. I’d like to thank the staff and everyone who has helped, and let’s just do it for one more game at Bradford.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Dynel Simeu on iFollow United now.

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