Newport County AFC’s new loan signing – Antoine Semenyo – believes he has joined the perfect club to continue his development as a Football League player.
The 18-year old striker put pen to paper on a season long loan deal with the club earlier today, which will see Semenyo stay at Rodney Parade through to the summer of 2019.
Semenyo joins the club having appeared against the Exiles in last week’s behind-closed-doors friendly with Bristol City, playing the final 30 minutes of the 2-2 draw at Failand Training Ground.
Having only signed professional terms with Bristol City in January, Semenyo has experienced a meteoric rise in his career since then and starred on loan with Bath City in the National League South last season.
Here, read what Semenyo exclusively told iFollow Exiles on his first day as a Newport County AFC player – including why he feels County is the perfect destination for his career moving forward, why joining the club before the official League Two start will aid his integration into the squad and why he is looking to follow in the footsteps of a previous Champions League winner during his career.
On his decision to join Newport County AFC for the 2018/19 campaign…
“I played for Bath City in the National League South last season, needed that experience because I’m only a newcomer and I only just recently joined the Bristol City academy.
“It’s only been about a year in the academy now, so I needed that initial experience and I’m now happy to get this loan at Newport County AFC in League Two.
“I’m sure it’ll be a very, very good loan for me and I’m ready to impress now.
“Mike Flynn said he watched me last season and he realised that I was one of the star players in that division.
“He felt like I would do really well coming over here, so he gave me a call to join the club and I was happy to join. I want to come here, impress, and improve my game.
“His words give me a lot of confidence moving forward. I’m just ready to show what I’ve got now in League Two. I’m buzzing.”
On why County were the perfect team for him to join as he takes his first steps into League Two…
“All I’ve done since joining the Bristol City academy is work hard in training and focus on improving upon my weaknesses. I’ve been trying hard to perfect those, try to have less weaknesses so that I can move forward with my career.
“I’ve had a lot of help from coaches, team mates so I’m really grateful for all that help. I’m hopeful that this season will be a good season.
“I spoke with the fellow players at the club today and I can tell you that this is the right club for me moving forward.
“I spoke with Shawn McCoulsky and he did say that this club would be very good for me moving forward. I’m only 18, he gave me some tips for the new season, told me to keep my head down, score lots of goals and I’m going to stick by that.
“I also spoke to some of the first-team players at Bristol City about moving to this club and they said exactly the same things to be fair - work hard, get your goals, be consistent and seize the opportunity.
“I have to stick by those pieces of advice.”
On what he is hoping to bring to the club moving forward…
“I would like to think of myself as a striker who is very powerful, give me a chance and I’ll score. Can’t wait to show it on the pitch now really.
“My message to the fans for next season is that I’m ready, I’ll give the fans all I’ve got, and who knows – let’s see what happens. I need to keep up my performances in training and then we’ll have to wait and see.
“To be honest, I prefer to play in a two so that I can have someone that I can play off. It allows me to go in behind, come deep so I’d have to say that I’m pretty used to that really.
“I’m looking forward to building positive relationships with the other strikers at the club. I’m so ready for this, I just want to get the season started with to be honest.”
On what his experiences of playing for Bath City told him about his career and making his debut in the Championship whilst still a teenager…
“Before playing in the National League South, I would have to say that I was quite a one-dimensional player. I used to just kick and run, use my power and pace.
“But I learnt that the defenders in that league were very smart and they tended to read what I was trying to do.
“I had to change up my game a little bit during that time, so it did help me so much playing in that league.
“I felt like a different player after that experience so bringing me into this team will hopefully take us to promotion.
“I was so happy to make my debut for Bristol City in the Championship. I’ve worked very hard in my career so far and to get to that stage at a young age, I was very happy when they told me that I was making my debut.
“I will push for more of those opportunities – it starts here and I’m ready to take this opportunity.
“It was a very hard game against Sheffield United. I couldn’t quite impact on the game like I thought I could, but I kept trying to contribute, worked hard and that’s something I’ll be trying to improve on next season at this club.
“I’d like to think that I can handle the physicality of League Two. I feel like I’m ready for all defenders in League Two, I’m coming.”
On how he got into football and how he wants his career to progress…
“I always looked up to Didier Drogba when I was growing up. I used to watch him all the time, I’m not a Chelsea fan but I loved watching him.
“The way he played was so special and I feel like that could be me one day. I’m hoping to follow in his footsteps.
“He was such a clinical striker – any chance he got, he scored. All the defenders in the Premier League were always worried about him so that’s how I want to make all the defenders in this league feel like next season.
“I’m hoping to impress, score goals, keep doing my job correctly and then when I go back to Bristol City, hopefully I’ll get more opportunities and more experiences.
“I’m ready to put myself out there. That’s why I’ve come here, I feel like if I start from here then I could really go far with my career.
“I would be so happy to play in the Premier League one day. I’m also hoping to play for England at some point in my career as-well, but at this moment in time it’s about putting myself out there, getting the experience and when I get my chance, I’ll show the fans what I can do.”