FOOTBALL: Big Marc signs off with a smile

CHEQUE IT OUT...Marc Mukendi pictured receiving the Garvagh, Kilrea and District SC Player of the Month trophy for February from Rebecca and William Bradley, who sponsored it. CR12-231s
CHEQUE IT OUT...Marc Mukendi pictured receiving the Garvagh, Kilrea and District SC Player of the Month trophy for February from Rebecca and William Bradley, who sponsored it. CR12-231s

AS comebacks go it’s up there with Lazarus.

Just three months ago it looked as though Marc Mukendi had played his last game for Coleraine.

After an impressive first season the affable big defender suffered due to injuries and a lack of opportunities this time out.

And he was subsequently placed on the transfer list by then manager David Platt, much to the former Derry City man’s frustration.

“I just felt I had no part to play in the team when David was there,” Mukendi told Times Sport.

“It was very frustrating for me not playing. I know what I can do and I’ve always had confidence in my ability.

“I’m just glad for me that things have turned around because I love the club and the people round the club.

“I could see myself really enjoying my football here and doing well.”

The turnaround though only came after the club had slumped towards the foot of the table. And it was Platt who ended up leaving the club first as the Coleraine board brought Oran Kearney into the hot seat.

The new boss knew the squad needed lifting and threw a lifeline to Mukendi. He hasn’t looked back since, and he has played a major role in lifting the club up both on and off the pitch.

Remarkably the defender, who only netted once last term, has seven goals to his name since February.

The smile is back again and he told Times Sport he is feeling like a kid again.

“I loving it,” he said “I always wanted to play up front. I don’t think anyone likes to be stuck back in defence.

“I’m feeling like a kid again and the goals always help.

“I always knew I could score if given the chances and to be honest the deliveries from all the midfielders, and in particular Scullion and Carson are amazing.

“It makes it so much easier to score, so I have to thank them.”

So which goal is his favourite?

“The equaliser against Glentoran in the Irish Cup replay was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in football,” he said with a big smile.

“To celebrate with the fans, who were going mad was amazing, I’ll certainly never forget it.

“But I enjoyed my first goal of the season against Carrick Rangers. I was having a bit of banter with the lads because I kept asking them to play it over the top for me.

“So when they did and I scored we were all laughing, we still have a bit of banter about it now.”

Unfortunately the big man won’t have too many more opportunities left to score in a Coleraine shirt – for now at least anyway.

After being placed on the transfer list in January he took the decision to head off to Australia for a year this summer.

He heads off Down Under once the season ends, but he hasn’t ruled out coming back to The Showgrounds on his return to the province.

“I’m heading off to Australia for a year more or less as soon as the season ends,” revealed Mukendi.

“Oran spoke to me when he came in, but I was all organised to go.

“When we were speaking I told him if he had of came in a few weeks earlier I would have stayed.

“Oran was very understanding and told me everything happens for a reason and he is right, if it’s meant to be I’ll come back and for Coleraine again.

“I’ve loved playing for him. He is a great manager and I know he’ll do well here.

“As I said before everything is in place for this to be a great club and I think Oran is the man to take it forward.

“I think Coleraine could be the team to watch next season.

“Me and the boys have been talking a lot travelling up and down the road and they’re all looking forward to a good pre-season and just getting a fresh start with Oran.

“We shouldn’t be too far away, if the results keep going and we get some new faces on board who knows what could happen.”

STORY: Steven Crawford