Winger ready for Burton challenge.
Gills winger Jordan Graham, who recently returned to action after a lengthy injury layoff, has a refreshing enthusiasm for the ‘beautiful game’ and admits that he lives, breathes and sleeps football.
Ahead of Gillingham’s Sky Bet League One home clash with Burton on Saturday, Jordan faced the local media and addressed his passion for the game and spoke of his eagerness to be back performing on the pitch after suffering on the sidelines.
The former-Wolves and Aston Villa player said: “I have loved football ever since I can remember walking. It’s my life and it has been embedded in me. My family and all my friends when I was younger loved football. I would try and sneak out of lessons early to play. I watch every game on television and I’m always tweeting about football. I didn’t realise how much I loved it until the first lockdown.
“I’m always watching games on TV, whether that be League Two, Non-League, in Italy or in France; I’m always trying to learn and better myself. I work hard in training and I am the one who asks to do extras. For me, it’s been a case of finding a place to enjoy my football again. I needed to find a home.”
After pulling up with a hamstring injury against Exeter in the FA Cup, the tricky-winger had to make do with watching his teammates on iFollow, but he returned with a bang against Plymouth on Saturday and despite the Gills losing 1-0, he put in one of his most eye-catching performances of the season, looking a constant threat all afternoon.
He said: “It has been brilliant to get back on the pitch. It was a tough little injury for me personally because I was enjoying my football and producing some good performances. It wasn’t too severe so I was quite fortunate. The timing of it wasn’t ideal, especially with it happening in the last minute of a game.
“Fortunately I came back and managed to last 90 minutes. I didn’t think I was going to play, but I was prepared mentally. As a player who loves football, the minute I am on the pitch you will never, ever see me asking to be subbed. I was prepared to play the whole game [at Home Park]; at no point was I going to turn to the gaffer and say ‘I’m tired, I need to come off.’
“The fans have welcomed me here with open arms both times. I feel really settled and I’m just enjoying playing football, and that’s when you are going to get the best out of me. I’m angry when we lose; I always want to win. Hopefully I bring that competitive factor to the team. Having a winning mentality is the most important thing.”
Looking optimistically to the rest of the campaign, Jordan says he is keen to avoid any further injuries or forced breaks to the season as he aims to propel Gillingham up the Sky Bet League One table.
The midfielder, who has represented both England and the Republic of Ireland at youth level, said: “The worst thing for me is to have a break, especially after being out for the last five weeks. I just want to keep playing.
“2020 has been a terrible year, but for me in some ways a lot of distractions have been taken out of my life and it was just down to me and football. I think I have really excelled this season and I feel like there is a lot more to come if I continue to keep believing in myself the way that I do.
“It’s time to get back to scoring and assisting as much as I can. At the end of the day that is what I am here to do. Everything has been positive leading up to the game on Saturday against Burton. The boys are looking forward to the game, we are eager to get out there and put in a good performance.”