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INTERVIEW: It was a special day

Kai Nugent on his first professional deal

1 July 2023


INTERVIEW: It was a special day

Kai Nugent on his first professional deal

1 July 2023

Midfielder Kai Nugent became the latest Cumbrian lad to earn a pro contract at the end of last season following a successful two-year scholarship, which included a promotion-winning loan spell with Workington and former-Blue Danny Grainger.

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We caught up with him ahead of his first training session when the players got back together on Wednesday morning.

“It feels weird to be honest,” he said. “I’m excited to get going even though I know there’s loads of hard work coming.

“It’s all about getting back to work and getting on with it so that we’re prepared for the season. The gaffer has spoken to me and he’s told me to work as hard as I can through pre-season, and we can see where it goes from there.”

And he admitted that the loan spell in West Cumbria had helped for what lies ahead.

“I loved it,” he told us. “I didn’t think it would go that well but with having played men’s football I feel like I’m ten times better than I was before I went there.

“I was nervous a lot when I first went there but Danny helped me to settle down. After I’d played my first game I felt right at home.

“I enjoyed every minute of it, I got a goal, and it was an amazing feeling to be part of their promotion. I’ve never had that feeling before. I wish every season could be like that.

“I honestly feel like I’ve learned so much and I do feel like a new player coming back here now. I actually feel like a new person as well. It’s because of being involved in men’s football in a totally different environment.

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“It’s the physical side of it and I had to adapt to that very quickly. Danny went out of his way to make me feel at home and I have to thank him for that.

“Even if I made mistakes he was the first one to put his arm round me. He kept telling me try things and, even if it didn’t go well, he wanted me to keep trying anyway.

“Once we got to the point where we knew we could be promoted the pressure did build, and you could feel when the fans were getting nervous in the background, because they went quiet at times. The fact we were all determined to do it made everyone come together and play better.”

Back to the present day and it’s now about establishing himself in the Carlisle first-team squad.

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet, but I’m sure it will one day,” he told us. “When I was told that I’d got the contract it was a special day.

“Me and my mam have been waiting for it since the first day I came here when I was only eight-years old. It was a big relief off our shoulders.

“It’s my club so it meant a lot. Like I say, it did feel weird getting ready in the first-team changing room this morning but I really can’t wait to get started.

“Being at Workington has got me ready for the mickey taking that I’m sure I’ll get, and I am nervous about my first session but I’d also say I’m more excited about it. I can’t wait to train every day out there.

“I got promoted at Workington then obviously we got promoted down at Wembley as well, I wish every season was like that! I’m not sure I’ll ever experience a double promotion again, but it was great.

“As the manager said we had to enjoy all that, but it’s now about next season. I’ll see how pre-season goes first and then I’ll set some targets!”

We had to finish with a question on what it was like for him on the day he received his first professional contract offer.

“My family were all over the moon when I got the news,” he said. “My mam and dad were both crying - all the lifts and running about after me and the hard work they’ve put in since I was eight have finally paid off.

“It was weird on the day after I came out of the meeting because the other lads were there asking how I’d got on, but I knew they’d just been released.

“I didn’t want to be too excited because they’re all my best pals and it’s weird seeing us all go off on our own journey, but that’s football, isn’t it.”

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