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Afolayan out to make more magic in the FA Cup

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Afolayan out to make more magic in the FA Cup 13202133

Dapo Afolayan wants to make another great FA Cup memory in tonight’s first round replay at Stockport County.

The Wanderers winger already created one of his career highlights in the competition after scoring on his full West Ham United debut against Doncaster Rovers last year.

Just a fortnight later he was sent out on loan to Bolton, a move turned permanent in the summer, and one which is now looking a stunning bit of business after racking up nine goals in his first 21 games.

Afolayan has been in the under-dogs’ shoes and was part of a Solihull Moors side looking to knock out league opposition in Wycombe four years ago.

But he is relishing the prospect of playing in front of the TV cameras at Edgeley Park as Ian Evatt’s side look to book a second round date with Rotherham United.

“It’s brilliant, I love playing on TV,” he told The Bolton News. “The competition means a lot to me whether I was playing in non-league, or last season with West Ham.

“It is special and I can’t wait. It will be a good game because we made a couple of mistakes and they punished us, and that is the sign of a good side.

"We have to respect the opposition and the competition and go out to put in a performance the supporters can be proud of on a national stage.”

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The narrative running through this tie was given extra spice for the supporters by the sudden departure of former Bolton captain Antoni Sarcevic to the Hatters just a few weeks ago.

Afolayan does not think Evatt’s squad will approach things any differently now that the midfielder has been passed fit to play in the replayed game.

“It’s like coming up against any of our old players – we’ll play Arthur Gnahoua and Ryan Delaney in a few weeks (at Morecambe). Football players move on, join new clubs, and it won’t be any different with Sarce.

“There was a lot of talk about how he left, why he left, but it’s football. Things like that happen.

“We can only focus on ourselves and leave all the other stuff out of it.”

Wanderers go into a busy week in high spirits, having returned to winning ways against Crewe on Friday and enjoyed a weekend of reminiscing and optimism with the legends game, raising funds for Motor Neurone Disease.

For Afolayan, the game represented exactly why he wanted to stay at the UniBol in the summer.

“The club is in a good place and it is only going to keep going forward,” he said.

“I think speaking to some of the legends, you can see the size of this club. And for so many fans to come out – I was aiming for 10,000 – but 13 is spectacular, especially on a Sunday.

“There are some great people who work at this club, people who have been here a long time, and that is what makes it so special. Getting to know everyone around the building, smiling faces, it’s a good feeling.

“It is a family club and I have felt the love since I joined. I just appreciate being here, it is a privilege to play for the manager and it is an honour to pull on this shirt.”

The 24-year-old has drawn flattering comparisons to the great Jay Jay Okocha among supporters, and got a chance to meet the man himself on Sunday.

“I did speak with him and, I have to say, being on a pitch with him was an honour because it was someone I grew up watching and wanting to emulate,” he said. “Again, some of the stuff he did out there was mesmerising but I’m not sure Adam Senior agrees. I don’t think he was happy about it.

“I always learn, I always take little bits from people, but that was all about Geth’s family.

“As a group we all wanted to come out and show our support for Geth.

“What he has gone through and how he has conducted himself over the last few months has been amazing.

“As team-mates, we really appreciate what he has been able to produce.”

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