Page ambition impresses new Cobblers signing Zakuani
Gaby Zakuani says the vision and ambition of boss Rob Page persuaded him his future lay at the Cobblers.
The former Peterborough United central defender received offers from five other league one clubs, but decided Northampton was the place for him as he embarks on the next stage of his football career.
Mulling over his options following his release by Posh at the end of last season, the 30-year-old met with Page 10 days ago, and admitted what the Cobblers boss had to say convinced him he should head for Sixfields.
“The gaffer here at Northampton showed a lot of faith in me, and he has brought me here to do a job and I look forward to being part of the success that Northampton have started,” said Zakuani.
“I had a chat with the gaffer, and I know a little bit about his history as well and that he was a defender just like me.
“He did a good job at Port Vale and when he spoke to me he just ticked all of the boxes.
“He told me about his plans for the club and the direction he wants to take it. I agreed with everything he said and somebody of my experience definitely wants to be part of that.”
Zakuani can’t wait to get started at Northampton, but admits it has been a big deal for him to leave Peterborough.
The two clubs are of course huge rivals and there are bound to be some Posh fans unhappy that Zakuani has switched sides and joined the ‘old enemy’, but the player admits the move was simply the best for him and he had to take it.
Zakuani still lives in Peterborough, so there will be no need to relocate his family, and he said: “The Peterborough fans have always thought very highly of me, but it is football and sometimes you have to think about yourself.
“I have been at Peterborough a long time, through all of the ups and some of the downs as well, but mostly it has been a very successful period for the club. We punched above our weight a lot of times in the championship.
“But sometimes you get to a point where it is time to move on, and that time is now. I now look forward to maybe sharing that success here at Northampton.”
Zakuani is not going to have to wait too long for his first return to his former club either, with the Cobblers pencilled in to travel to London Road for the derby since 2009 on Tuesday, October 18, with the Sixfields return just a month later.
“I feel like the guy who did the fixtures did it on purpose, because they are pretty close together,” said the DR Congo international. “I haven’t got too long to wait and I am really looking forward to the games.”
Zakuani has experienced the derby experience from the blue corner with mixed results, being red-carded the last time the teams met, and he accepts it will be ‘strange’ to go into the game as a Cobblers player.
“My debut for Peterborough was here at Sixfields, so that is quite strange for me,” he said. “Then in the game at Peterborough I got sent off after about five or six minutes! That is a memory I want to get rid of, and hopefully there will be no sendings off this time.
“It will be strange to play against Peterborough, especially as the fans took to me there, but it is football and you just have to get on with it. I want to be successful here at Northampton now.”
So, what sort of defender are the Cobblers getting?
“I am an old fashioned dedicated defender,” said Zakuani, who began his career at Leyton Orient, before being sold to Fulham for £1m.
“I enjoy defending, and I hope the fans here will get to see the best of me.
“I am a defender first and foremost, and I would rather do a goalline clearance than score a a hat-trick.
“I look forward to putting my body on the line for the club, and doing everything to make sure that we keep clean sheets.”