Exclusive Interview: Manny Duku

James Rowe for The Secret Footballer

(Image source: Fife Today)

JR: You signed for Raith Rovers in 2020. How are you enjoying your time at the club so far and how would you describe a club such as Raith Rovers?

MD: I did indeed sign for Raith Rovers in the summer of 2020 and up until now it is a really good club to be at and everybody in and around the club have made me feel very welcome from day one. I feel at home here at Raith Rovers in all honesty.

JR: Playing for one season at Cheltenham Town. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

MD: Yes, Cheltenham Town was my first English Football League club and it was a highlight that I was blessed enough to sign for an English Football League club. I also scored a goal against Macclesfield Town in the English Football League away from home and that was another highlight - I had just come back from an injury and I scored the equalizer. I also sustained injuries during that season and the manager Gary Johnson was also sacked. I look back on a very educational season and I would say that it made me a stronger man.

JR: You also played for Torquay United. They are a well known club in England. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

MD : I was only at the club for six months and everything belongs to the process of making me the player I am today also in a mentality sense. Even if I do not necessarily I have highlights on the pitch I have highlights in my mind and that also makes me the player I am today.

This article is brought to you by Freelance Football Opps, a newsletter connecting you to paid freelance opportunities every week in the beautiful game. Visit: www.freelancefootballopps.com for more information.

JR: Having accrued a lot of experience in different countries so far in your career, could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside?

MD: Yes, In general I have played with many good players at different levels in different countries. I can’t pick one or a couple of players specifically as I do not want leave other players short! I do not wish to say specific names and I have also played in many good teams and that is also a vital process in football.

JR: I can imagine in your position as striker that you have come up against many difficult opponents so far in your career, could you say which opponents have stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?

MD: Yes, I remember playing a League Cup game with Cheltenham Town against Brentford. They were in the Championship and they also reached the Championship play-off final last season - they were a club and a team where I thought ‘wow’. They played in a higher division than us at the time and they were better. They players that played that night are almost all now playing in the Premier League, such as Ollie Watkins at Aston Villa. Chris Mepham went to AFC Bournemouth. Saïd Benrahma now plays for West Ham United. They had a lot of quality players in their team.

JR: Finally Manny, could you say who were the coaches and managers that meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional football player?

MD: Yes, I would say that when I was younger I had Enrique Zschuschen at Legmeervolgels. He taught me a lot up until entering senior and professional football especially in my last year before becoming a professional footballer. He also played football in the amateur divisions here in the Netherlands. He was a top amateur player back in the day. In England, I would say Paul Hughes. He was the manager that gave me a chance to play football in England and he helped me a lot. I would also say Gary Johnson because he was the manager that brought me to Cheltenham Town and I will always be grateful to him for that because he thought about me when I was playing for Hayes & Yedding FC - he showed that belief in me that I could play League Two football. Gary Johnson has been an important person in my football career so far. My current manager John McGlynn at Raith Rovers because he has given me a chance in Scotland.

James Rowe is a Dutch Football expert based in the Netherlands, professional writer and translator for The Secret Footballer. He has featured on talkSPORT and regularly features on talkSPORT 2 and Love Sport Radio. You can follow him on Twitter here.