Grimsby Town’s Siriki Dembele has won the EFL Young Player of the Month award for October after a string of impressive performances led to the Mariners having an unbeaten month in Sky Bet League Two.
The 21-year old hit three goals in just five Sky Bet League Two fixtures, including a first-half brace to secure the three points for his side at Whaddon Road against Cheltenham Town.
“I’m feeling great, I am really happy to win this award. I think it was going really well for the team and when that happens you can express yourself as an individual.” Dembele said upon receiving his award.
"I’m really buzzing to have won it, It’s a big achievement for myself.
“It makes it more special knowing that the likes of Dele Alli and Wilfried Zaha have also won it. It just makes me happy and gives me more belief.”
The pacey winger also struck what would prove to be the winning goal earlier in the month against Port Vale, and in doing so scored his first goal in professional football and for Russell Slade’s side.
“I remember running in behind and being through on goal and I knew I had a chance – I was buzzing to get it. It felt unreal in front of the Town fans. Obviously it was my first professional goal so it will be one I remember.”
Born in the Ivory Coast, Dembele moved to the United Kingdom with his family in search of an opportunity within professional football. After a short spell in Dundee United’s Youth Team, he joined the Nike Academy before signing for Grimsby Town in the summer. However, being a relative of Premier League title winners Kolo and Yaya Toure, the youngster was always confident in his ability to impress when given the chance.
“[Becoming a professional] is something I’ve always wanted to do and it does run in the family. I was confident enough in myself to know that it was going to happen,” he continued.
“It is true that I am related to the Toure brothers. I do look up to them as players, but also as people. I know my dad speaks to them sometimes and they’re really nice guys.”
Perhaps a slightly unconventional route into professional football, Dembele joined the Nike Football Academy after his spell in Scotland, an English Academy based at St. George’s Park. With a revolving squad of unsigned Under-20 players, the Academy is run with the intention of helping them find a professional club.
“I actually went to the trials in Manchester and the final stage was in France, which I got through to be able to join the Academy. Everyone has got their own path, whether that be through the youth team of a Club or similar to mine.”
With regular playing time a catalyst for him joining the Mariners, this season represents the first taste of playing professional football week-in-week-out for Dembele and he was quick to thank Grimsby Town manager Russel Slade for helping his progression.
“It is sometimes hard to breakthrough to the first-team at a Club, I felt the best option for me was to come to Grimsby because I would be playing regular football.
“The manager has helped me both progress on the pitch and as a person. He is looking after me and since joining the Club he has given me an opportunity to play, and start, every game so that has helped my confidence and improved me as a player.”
And Town boss Russell Slade believes it is a deserved award and there’s more to come from the player. He added: “I’m delighted for him. Big smiley face this morning as he’s collected that award. And it is much deserved. He’s played every single game in that month, he’s got himself a couple of goals. He now just needs to understand that’s not the end of it, just the start of it. He’s got a brilliant attitude.”