By Charlie Peat
MUSTAPHA Carayol lost his smile at Nottingham Forest but is adamant Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy is just the right person to bring it back.
The Gambian international made just 17 starts in 15 months by the Trent before making a free-transfer switch on deadline day to Portman Road.
Since his debut for MK Dons in 2007, Carayol has turned out for 11 teams, but the 29-year-old believes he may have finally found a long-term home.
He may only be on an initial six-month contract at Ipswich, but the winger is desperate to put his frustrations behind him and concentrate on playing his best football under renowned motivator McCarthy.
Carayol said: “There’s nothing worse for an attacking player than if you’re having a bad 20 minutes or make a mistake, and you’re then looking over your shoulder at the manager, thinking he’s going to take you off.
“You want a manager that’s going to have your back and have belief in what you can do. I think I have that with Mick McCarthy at Ipswich.
“I like to think I’m a game-changer, so there are going to be times when it’s not going well, but there are going to be times when I’m at the top of my game. So, it’s about having the manager trust you.
“I feel all that’s missing is a run of games to get that confidence back and I’m sure once I get up and running I’ll be putting in the performances. Hopefully, I’ll have a smile on my face again.”
Carayol had a tumultuous four years at Middlesbrough before joining Forest in 2016. He ruptured his anterior cruciate knee ligament in March 2014 and was sidelined for 13 months.
He admits his time in the East Midlands was a frustrating one and is hoping a consistent run of games before the end of the season can fire him to a new level.
“I don’t want to talk about it too much, but as a player you need a few games to get into a rhythm to play your best football,” he insisted.
“I fully recovered from injury in the back end of last season and I was having a good run of games and felt really good.
“I was really optimistic for the new season, but I feel like I wasn’t given much of an opportunity and that was really frustrating.
“Mick has been fantastic. I’ve spoken to him and he wants me to express myself and enjoy myself. I’m looking forward to showing the Ipswich fans what I can do.”
Carayol grew up in south London but was born in Banjul, the capital of Gambia, and has represented the country on four occasions, scoring twice.
The 29-year-old moved to the UK when he was five but takes immense pride in representing the nation of his birth.
And now he is giving something back by donating football shirts and boots to children in the country.
He added: “It’s like a real family. You go out there and you’re trying to do the country proud. It’s amazing to represent your country and score for your country.
“There’s no better feeling than knowing you’re in a position to help people.
“As I was leaving Forest, the kit man gave me a lot of old kit because I wanted to get some to take out there in the summer.
“I’m encouraging the boys here to donate their old boots and kit, so I can send it out there. For me it’s all about trying to put smiles on as many faces as possible.”
And, for Carayol, that starts with his own.