THE importance of Chester Football Club to it’s supporters was laid bare to debutant Offrande Zanzala on Saturday.
The 20-year-old forward only signed on-loan for Marcus Bignot’s side on the morning of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie at Kidderminster Harriers, coming on as a second-half substitute in the Blues’ disappointing 2-0 defeat but showing some nice touches and strength to shrug off the hosts’ defenders during his 30-minute cameo.
Having progressed through the youth academy at Derby County since 2008, Zanzala is used to playing Under 23s football at empty stadiums, and the trip to Aggborough, in which the travelling Blues supporters made their feelings known at full-time, was a sign of how different playing National League football is going to be for the youngster.
“It’s totally different,” explained Zanzala, who was born in Congo but emigrated to the UK in 1999 as a result of the Civil War in his home country.
“Coming here and playing National League is very different to under 23s football.
“It’s always good, it’s a change of environment, a change of team, style of play, it’s different because playing for the under-23s at Derby, it is important but coming here at Chester, it means a lot, the three points and the fans behind you, you need that in your career so it’s good to come here for the experience.
“In the under 23s you have a lot of young players coming through with a lot to learn and they are still finding their feet. You’re building technically, tactically and physically every day. But coming here you are playing against men and the football is different. It’s quicker, the game means more. The fans are going to get behind you whether that’s good or bad.
“It is that importance of knowing how much the football means to the fans, the manager and the players around you and I’m loving it.”
Zanzala – one of two weekend signings after the arrival of back-up goalkeeper Ryan Crump – was elated to get the call to join Chester and believes it’s crucial the side bounce back from their cup exit with three points at home to Boreham Wood.
“I was excited to hear the news that I was able to come here as it’s such a great club to get some experience, so I was over the moon to hear that I was coming here and I couldn’t wait to get my first game,” he said. “I’ve come on and I’m obviously disappointed with the score, but that is all part of the experience as well.
“As a group we have to pick ourselves up, but it’s been good, I’ve loved it so far, meeting the lads was brilliant and the gaffer.
“It’s only my first game so hopefully we can get three points next weekend.”
The lively forward, who can play down the middle or on the wing, was on the verge of breaking into Derby’s first-team plans last term before a serious ACL injury.
“I was really disappointed being out for the whole season, but I guess that’s part of football and you have to pick yourself up, and I think I’ve done that well I’d say,” he added. “Playing for Derby, coming back from a long-term injury I think I’ve performed well and topping it up a bit coming out here to get more experience and I’m just finding my feet again.”
n Chester's away clash at Eastleigh has been rearranged for a second time for Saturday, November 4 (3pm).
Postponed on September 30 at late notice, the fixture had initially been rearranged for Tuesday, October 31, but with both clubs knocked out of the FA Cup last Saturday, the spare weekend has been utilised.
All Chester fans are entitled to free admission, with fans who are due to be reimbursed for their travel costs for the original fixture asked to email email@example.com with proof of purchase for their transport costs.
See full story in the Chester Leader