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Interviews

Gareth: Anis stood out from day one

Boss recalls his first encounter with the Chairboys' no.19.

5 December 2021

Gareth Ainsworth says he knew from the first day of pre-season training in 2020 that Anis Mehmeti had the potential to go on and become an integral part of the squad at Adams Park.

The creative midfielder put pen to paper on a new deal until 2024 this week after catching the eye with his performances ever since making his first-team debut in October 2020, having only signed for the club three weeks earlier after impressing on trial with Sam Grace's development team.

"I remember seeing him on the first day of training last season when Sam Grace had brought in a load of trialists for the development squad," he told the local press on Thursday morning. "I could tell he was head and shoulders above the rest and asked Sam who he was. We drip-fed him into the first team sessions and he was at home straightaway.

"He's learned the discipline of football; it's not just about getting on the ball and driving forward, but there's a lot more to the game. He's this Albanian lad from East London who spent a lot of time playing on the streets and in the cages when he was growing up and that's helped him develop this real talent on the ball. He'll be a full international before long, but for now, let's keep him playing well and scoring goals."

Mehmeti signed his deal with his family watching on proudly in the new media room at the club's Marlow Road training base, and Ainsworth said the occasion enabled him to reflect on the club's progress on and off the pitch.

"We've been trying to get him signed up for a while but there were various reasons why we couldn't do it earlier, and these things happen in football - it's nobody's fault. It was nice to get Anis's family along and show them the club that we've become. He signed his contract in the brand new media room that's been built at the training ground and that in itself is another sign of the improvements that we're making all the time, with the Couhig family's vision and backing.

"We've signed someone that other clubs wanted, which is a big statement for us. We've given him a contract that suits him and he was happy to sign here. He's an exciting player, and he still has a lot to learn. There aren't many better players around with the ball at their feet and we want to help him grow into the complete player.

"It's the right fit for him here. Players want to see a development path for themselves and we're really moving forward here. We've got loads of things in place that we've never had before on the sports science and analysis side, we've got psychology and really strong player welfare systems in place, top medical facilities and a great set of staff. We know this is a club that players will want to come and play for and we're really proud of that."


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