Reaching for the top

JOHNY Diba Musangu views Mossley as an important stepping stone in rebuilding a once-promising career that had Arsenal and Chelsea showing interest.

The 21-year-old, who also attended England training camps as a schoolboy and later was a professional at Rochdale, believes he can still achieve his ambition of becoming a Premier League goalkeeper.

Johny in action for Mossley AFC

Musangu, who played his one first-team game for Rochdale as a 16-year-old, declared: “It has been tough since leaving Spotland,but playing for Mossley is bringing back the confidence I had as a youngster.

“I have never before been a number one and had a regular run of games. It is a new experience learning to cope mentally with playing Saturday, Tuesday, something I am loving.”

Since asking to be released by Rochdale 18 months ago, Musangu admitted it has been tough as after joining Ashton United he sustained a serious ankle injury that kept him out of much of last season.

“I couldn’t kick a ball and at one stage it was so bad I considered quitting football,” he explained.

It eventually cleared and former joint managers Peter Band and Lloyd Morrison took him Mossley where he suffered a recurrence of the injury.

It has been an altogether different story this season as Musangu, who says he is stronger and fitter than ever, has established himself as Mossley’s number one.

And such has been his sparkling form that he was named the club’s player of the month for September.

Mossley joint manager Dave Wild said: “Johny has been outstanding and was also unlucky not to win the award for August.

“When Terry (Hincks) and I became manager, we talked about improving the spine of the team and one key area is goalkeeper.

“Johny is a good, solid keeper and has made a positive start to the season and has been colossal for us.

“When he was younger he was built up as one of England’s brightest young keepers with Arsenal interested in him which shows the potential he had.

“Johny is still young and we are reaping dividends of having him in our side.”

Musangu was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and moved to England aged three through his father’s work in the ministry as he is pastor at New Life Christian Fellowship in Rochdale.

And Musanga is religious, explaining: “God in a massive part of my life and my faith and Jesus is my number one priority.

“I have had a hard time since leaving Rochdale, but I have never given up and it is all part of my story.”

Musangu’s story has certainly been an eventful as he was at Rochdale between the ages of 11 and 19.

He was a player of immense promise as underlined by being invited to England U15 and 16 training camps at St George’s Park where the other keepers included Manchester United’s Dean Henderson and Angus Gunn who recently left Manchester City for Southampton in a £13.5million transfer.

Musangu also recalls Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi as a player attending those training camps.

He was promoted to Rochdale’s first-team squad less than one month after completing his GCSE exams for the start of the 2014/15 season.

The fairytale continued as the 16-year-old made his first-team debut in the second match of the season replacing the injured Josh Lillis an hour into a League One match at Chesterfield. And that was soon followed by a first professional contract.

Arsenal and Chelsea were on the scent of Musangu, but Rochdale weren’t keen to sell.

“Sometimes I wonder what might have been, but I know what will come and I still have a belief I can become a Premier League goalkeeper,” he explained.

Musangu, who was loaned by Rochdale to FC United and Glossop, added he asked to be released due to having little game time.

It is a measure of Musangu’s determination to get back to the top that he is currently resisting taking a day job.

He explained: “I am training every day in the gym and treating myself as though I was still a full-time pro.

“I want to make a full-time living and dropping down a level has given me the motivation to get back up there and show everybody what I know I am capable of doing.”

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