Striker Adi Yussuf is keen to repay the faith shown in him by manager Adam Murray after he brought him to the club from non-league Oxford City in the summer.
The Tanzanian was a summer acquisition from the part-timers and is currently settling into professional life and Sky Bet League Two football with the Stags. The 23-year-old was keen to express just how much his teammates and manager have played a part in his transitional period and spoke humbly about last season’s form which won him a move to Nottinghamshire.
“The time will come [for me to get some starts], I’m sure the gaffer knows what he’s doing, he’s trusted me so I give him 100 percent trust. There’s no rush, it’s a long season so I’m sure I’ll get my chance.
“The summer I went to Oxford City, quite a few teams said they didn’t want me and said I wasn’t good enough. In the same year I got a move to league football, I was pinching myself for a good week. I’m glad it’s happened and I just want to establish myself in League Two now. I got lucky at Oxford, we had a good team.”
On Mansfield’s forwards, he commented: “All of them have got different qualities. Matt Green is the fittest man I’ve seen, unbelievably fit. He’s got everything, I see him as an older brother. Every single day he comes to speak to me and gives me advice, I can’t thank him enough.
“(Craig) Westcarr’s a different striker to me but he’ll never lose the ball. His first touch is always on point. The way Beardo (Chris Beardsley) holds the ball up is probably better than any of us. All four of us are different. I take my tips off all of them – we’ve got a close team so we all talk to each other and help each other.”
The former Leicester City youngster was at Oxford City following spells at Histon FC, Harrogate Town and Gainsborough Trinity and Yussuf, speaking in this morning’s news conference, talked openly about the differences between part-time and full-time football.
“At Oxford we were only training on Tuesday night and Thursday night – quite a few people had two jobs so they were coming in late, we’d start training and 7pm and it wasn’t as intense because some people would be tired.
“Here it’s training every day, the gaffer’s working us hard, running every day, it’s good. I’m doing my extra bits but I’m still behind with the fitness side because I’m used to training twice a week so I’m still adapting to it. I’m slowly improving.”
There has been one person in Yussuf’s life that has been a constant presence – his Dad. The striker has heaped praise on his father, who has been there with him every step of the way on his journey to professional football.
“I’ve been through some hard times but my Dad would never, ever let me give up and I’ve never lost faith. If you work hard, then anything’s possible. My Dad never misses a game, if he could he would come to training as well. He’s actually asked me if he’s allowed to come [to training] and watch but I’ve said ‘no’ – that would just be annoying!
“He’s been to different countries [to watch me play], literally every game. Whenever I score, I always go up to him because I know when I score it makes his day and makes him proud – I always thank my Dad. He was the only one that was there for me when times were really bad.”
You can watch Yussuf's news conference on Stags Player later.