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Dapo: Other clubs tried to sign me - but I only wanted Bolton

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Dapo Afolayan can’t take his eyes off the play-offs – but thanks his lucky stars he isn’t involved.

Fresh from signing a three-year deal with Wanderers, the winger has revealed he turned down offers from elsewhere at the end of the season to link-up again with Ian Evatt’s squad in League One.

Afolayan was a big part of the side which raced up the table post-January, clinching automatic promotion on the last day with a win at Crawley.

Since then, the 23-year-old has watched the drama unfold on the TV as teams slug it out for the remaining promotion spots.

“To get the job done and to go up automatically was massive because I am sat at home and watching the play-offs thinking ‘thank God I am not there, thank God I am not going through that,’ because it is agony watching it, I can’t imagine what it was like playing in it,” he laughed.

“That spell with Bolton is probably the best I have had in my career so far.

“At the end of the season a few clubs came in but from about the end of March my mind has kind of been made up.

“It was just about getting the season done, getting us promoted, and then after the season making sure we got it sorted out.”

Afolayan said he had made up his mind to sign for Wanderers back in March, with an agreement in place between Bolton and West Ham to make the deal permanent if it suited all parties.

He returned to the Hammers to confirm his position earlier this month and though other clubs did try to hijack the deal – he only had eyes for a Bolton return.

“The club speaks for itself really,” he said. “Growing up, even being in London, you know what a big club Bolton is. And then playing for the club – even with no fans there – you can feel how much it means to them, means to the community.

“It is a pleasure and a privilege to play for a club like this. For me, that was it.”

The lure of regular football brought Afolayan to the UniBol back in January and it also played a big part in him deciding to come back to the club.

“I played quite a lot when I was younger and then at West Ham over the last couple of years I haven’t been in and around the first team as much as I’d like,” he said.

“To come here and play as much as I did last season, hopefully next season I can get even more under my belt with a fresh start.

“I’d always said to myself that I needed to be playing. The way my time at West Ham went, with injuries and that, it was hard for me to be able to get in that position.

“When I joined in January there was always an option to make it permanent if it went well, and it did. I knew I would be able to come if I wanted to stay, so here I am.

“I want to play at the highest level again and keep pushing.

“For me, I want to help the club get to where it needs to be. We can grow together.

“It will be tough but we’re up for the challenge.”


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