Winger Ariyibi settling in at Sixfields following ‘strange’ debut against former team-mates

Gboly Ariyibi made his Cobblers debut against his former Milton Keynes Dons team-mates on Saturday (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Gboly Ariyibi made his Cobblers debut against his former Milton Keynes Dons team-mates on Saturday (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)

Loan signing Gboly Ariyibi has spoken of his delight at joining the Cobblers - but admitted it was ‘strange’ to line up against his former Milton Keynes Dons team-mates when he made his debut at Sixfields on Saturday.

The winger was only told last Wednesday that his season-long loan at Stadium MK was being terminated, and he was sent back to parent club Nottingham Forest.

But within hours of that happening, Ariyibi had been persuaded by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to go back out on loan again and join the Cobblers, and admits he now has ‘a great opportunity’ at Sixfields.

First though, he had to deal with that debut against players who were his team-mates just a few days before, with Ariyibi getting the last laugh as the Cobblers claimed a 2-1 win - the new signing playing his part as a second-half substitute.

“I saw this as a great opportunity for me, and I was delighted to sign here,” said Ariyibi.

“The fans were great and welcomed me really well, and it was great to get back on the pitch again.

I saw this as a great opportunity for me, and I was delighted to sign here. The fans were great and welcomed me really well, and it was great to get back on the pitch again

Cobblers winger Gboly Ariyibi

“Saturday was quite a strange game for me, but things like that happen and it was exciting to get used to all the players, and I was buzzing.”

Ariyibi saw his MK deal terminated by Robbie Neilson, who brought in Middlesbrough’s Marcus Tavernier on loan as a replacement, and it was to be the last thing of note the Scotsman did at Stadium MK as he was sacked on Saturday night, just hours after the defeat to Town.

There is no hint of bitterness towards Neilson from Ariyibi though, who insists his spell in Milton Keynes was a productive one for him.

“I enjoyed it at MK Dons,” said the former Leeds United and Chesterfield flyer. “I went there at the start of the season to play games, and the manager brought me in, but things just didn’t work out.

“I didn’t play in the last eight games. since Boxing Day, and I think he (Neilson) just wanted to make some changes.

“I had a good spell there, and I am sure the fans there would say that as well and I enjoyed my time there, but it was time to move on and get games in.

“Luckily, the manager here at Northampton has given me that opportunity.”

The move to the Cobblers was one that certainly came out of the blue for Ariyibi, and also meant his 23rd birthday last Thursday was probably a little more intense than he expected it to be!

“It all happened quickly. I went back to Forest and trained, and then my agent spoke to me and said there was interest,” he said.

“It was my birthday, and I didn’t really get much time to myself because all of this was going on, but it happened quickly, and it was just important to get somewhere as soon as possible.

“I was pretty successful at Milton Keynes, but things happen, and I am now just buzzing to get everything done, and to settle in.”

Ariyibi became the Cobblers’ seventh signing of the January transfer window, following on from the captures of Hildeberto Pereira, Jack Bridge, Richard O’Donnell, Shay Facey, Jordan Turnbull and Joe Bunney, and says he has joined a ‘bubbly’ changing room.

Confidence is certainly high at Sixfields at the moment as they have claimed three wins out of three, and Ariyibi has been impressed by his new manager’s ambition.

“You can see Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has big ambitions for the club,” said the USA-born player, who moved to the UK as a youngster and grew up in Oxford.

“He has brought in a lot of signings, but even when I played against Northampton earlier this season (for MK) they had great players, and we were lucky to draw that game.

“I have come here now, it is a bubbly changing room, with good, experience guys, and on Saturday we showed what we can do, both going forward and defensively.”