Nsiala: I Really Can’t Believe How Far I’ve Come
Thursday, 9th Aug 2018 20:01
Town newcomer Toto Nsiala will be hosting a dinner date with a group of fans from former club Grimsby – and all because his move to Portman Road proved them right.
Followers of the Mariners who got close to the big defender during his time at Blundell Park felt sure he could progress his career to Championship level, but he didn’t share their belief and that led to a bet being struck.
Nsiala, 26, recalled: “Back then I could never have envisaged being where I am today. Basically, I got friendly with a group of supporters who really believed in me.
“It ended up with me saying that if I ever managed to play in the Championship I would take them all out for a meal.
“Since I signed for Ipswich this week I have had a few messages from them saying I owe them.
“I really can’t believe how far I’ve come and it just shows what can happen if you put your head down, work hard and get on with it.
“I didn’t believe it was possible that I would play Championship football – but here I am.
“When you take so many knocks sometimes you have to be really strong to get back up on your feet and go again.
“If I didn’t have the people around me that I did back then I would never have been able to do it. I’m just pleased I did.
“I owe it all to my family, friends and people I’ve met along the way, as well as the gaffer [Paul Hurst] and Doigy [assistant Chris Doig].
“They’ve always been there for me and they’re still there for me now. I owe them a massive thank-you and obviously my girlfriend too for sticking by me.
“If you look at social media you’ll see I’ve had a lot of doubters and certain things have been said. It’s been good to prove people wrong every time I’ve joined a new club or gone to play in a new league.
“That’s exactly what I intend to do with Ipswich and I’m hungry to succeed.”
Nsiala not only has a broad Scouse accent but shares the Merseyside sense of humour. Asked what Town fans can expect from him, he replied: “Nothing special really – I’m joking! I’m a hard-working player and I love defending.
“I’m no John Stones but I can defend. I’m like a striker when they score a goal because I get the same buzz when I’m keeping the goals out.”
Fans might expect that tomorrow’s visit to newly-promoted Rotherham will bring back unhappy memories for Nsiala, a member of the Shrewsbury team beaten by the Millers in last season’s League One play-off final at Wembley.
But he added: “I actually think it’s better that my first game for Ipswich is going to be against them. At least I know what to expect. They are a hard-working team, tough to beat, and they will be up for it from the very first whistle. We’ll have to be ready for that.
“Of course it was painful what happened at Wembley and even though I’d suffered a similar defeat when I was at Grimsby it didn’t make it any easier.
“We had a chance to get promoted to the Championship so losing was a major blow and even harder to take. You can only deal with it by dusting yourself down and going again.”
Nsiala was born in Kinshasa in 1992 and was just three when he moved to France. Six years later the family relocated to Liverpool and he remembered: “My mum wanted to move away and give me and my older brother a better life. It seemed to work out fine for us and I’m happy with that.
“We moved to Paris when I was young and then to Liverpool when I was nine, which was different. At the school I went to, how can I put it, there weren’t many other people like me. It was just different but I loved every minute of it and I wouldn’t change it at all.”
Nsiala is looking forward to furthering his international career with DR Congo, for whom he made his debut in 2013 in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. “It was great experience for me,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to go again but you never know what will happen.
“My dad’s excited and already asked me about playing in the Africa Cup of Nations but to be honest I haven’t really given it any thought. I want to take things slowly and settle down here to get my Ipswich career going. That’s the most important thing at the moment.”
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