FOR a man who likes to dabble in trading, Inih Effiong’s stock has never been higher.
Buoyed by 25 National League goals for Dover Athletic over the past two seasons, the 29-year-old has finally received a crack at the EFL with Stevenage.
The striker spent lockdown engaging in a new hobby – investing in the stock market – but now he’s back to his day job and determined to prove he belongs in League Two.
After turning out for 15 clubs over 12 long years in Non-League football, Effiong’s chance at a higher level is finally here. Take yourself to a higher level in the betting stakes with the range of options at Bet365 casino online.
“It’s my first time in the Football League and I really can’t wait,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming!
“I’m grateful to Alex (Revell, Stevenage manager) for helping me out. I’ve got a big season ahead of me. I need to prove to myself and others that I can play in League Two and that I should have been in there a long time ago.
“Unfortunately, that didn’t happen but I’ve got the opportunity now and I’m going to grab it with both hands. I’ve always backed myself to play in the EFL. Whenever I’ve come up against Football League opposition, I’ve done well.”
Effiong gave Stevenage fans a taste of what’s to come as he made his debut in the 3-3 draw with Portsmouth in the Carabao Cup a fortnight ago, assisting Scott Cuthbert’s goal during a bustling performance – but although the striker netted his spot-kick, Boro exited on penalties.
He has encountered many roadblocks on his journey to this point, including spending three months in prison in 2015 after getting caught up in a drugs bust – a situation for which he still vehemently maintains his innocence.
He has also experienced plenty of self-doubt after countless summers of being passed over for a transfer to the EFL, so is eager not to waste potentially his only chance.
He added: “As you get older you start to think that it might not happen.
“But, when you’re in the National League you’re only one step away with a promotion. I knew that if I kept scoring goals and being a nuisance that I would get there.
“I’ve been grafting for years in Non-League. I always hoped the opportunity would come and it has through hard work. Since 2015 I’ve kept my head down and focused on football. Now that I’m here, I’ve got to work even harder to stay in the league.”
Hard work is one thing but you also need a bit of luck, and both Effiong and Stevenage know all about that.
After all, Revell – who took over from Graham Westley as Boro boss in February – could easily have been managing his side in the National League this term.
Stevenage were saved from League Two relegation, following a 2019-20 campaign in which they won just three games, when the EFL succeeded in an appeal to inflict a harsher points penalty on Macclesfield for misconduct related to the payment of player wages.
Having initially been deducted two points, a further four-point penalty for the Silkmen saw Revell’s men stay up at Macclesfield’s expense.
Effiong says the Stevenage players are well aware how close they came to dropping into Non-League but are determined to capitalise on the reprieve.
“It definitely could have been different,” Effiong added. “Myself and the club have been given a chance to stay in the Football League, we’re not going to let that pass us by.
“When I joined, I didn’t know what league I was going to be playing in but it was the manager that made me sign.
“Regardless of what happened with relegation or not, the team is building with new players and moving forward.”