Josh Hmami: Marine, Neil Young and preparing for Tottenham Hotspur

Credit: Marine AFC

You joined Marine in the summer of 2020. How did the move materialise?

When I was at Ramsbottom, we played Marine in the last game before COVID curtailed the season. Ramsbottom won the game 1-0 and I had a good game that day.

Then, in the summer Neil Young called me as I was a free agent and looking for a club. He spoke to my agent and asked if I’d be interested in joining the club. I then spoke to Neil over the phone and I immediately wanted to join as he is such a passionate manager. I’ve not looked back since joining the club.

Neil Young is a legend at Chester Football Club for what he achieved as a manager and is highly regarded in Non-League Football. What is he like to work with?

Credit: Chester FC

He’s a great manager. I don’t have one bad thing to say about him as from the first conversation that I had with him, I knew I wanted to play for him. He knows what he wants from his players and is clear about his ambitions not just for himself but for the players and the club as a whole.

Credit: Marine AFC

Tactically he is very good as he has shown on the current FA Cup run. We have beaten higher ranked sides such as Colchester and Chester away from home as well as Havant and Waterlooville at home. Those results and this run showcase and reflect just how good a manager he is.

This run has taken us to the point that we now play Tottenham Hotspur and Josè Mourinho at home which is such an exciting occasion for everyone associated with the club.

Credit: Attribution: Steffen Prößdorf Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

You mention those associated with the club. Just how passionate are the Marine fans? You’ve been allowed an allocation of fans at games this year, what has that been like?

We’ve been limited to 400 fans but even with those 400 it’s been such a help to the team. They are so passionate and really are our 12th man. For me without doubt they are the best fans in the league. No one comes close as they always back us as a team whether we win, lose or draw.

Credit: Marine AFC

What was your personal reaction when you drew Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup?

It’s surreal to be honest. It took a while to sink in. It’s a dream come true for us as there are lots of very good players who go a whole career without playing against a top Premier League side like Spurs. So, for me to be able to do it at 20 years old is a massive achievement and one that I am sure I’ll look back fondly on in the future.

You started your career at Accrington Stanley, what was it like coming through at the club under the leadership of John Coleman?

It’s a funny story as to how I got to Accrington. I signed for Bolton aged 7 and it was Dave Bailey who signed me there. He then brought me over to Accrington and gave my my scholarship there.

He explained that there was a clear opportunity for me to progress to the first team if I worked hard. It was a great experience for me as a young lad being around a winning mentality as in my second season at the club, we won promotion to League 1.

I also made my debut in that season and I learned a lot from being around senior players such as Billy Kee and manager John Coleman.

Credit: Accrington Stanley

You mention Billy Kee, just what was he like with younger players like yourself?

He was magnificent. He led by example on the training pitch and especially in games with the amount of goals that he scored. He won games singlehandedly in the promotion campaign. It is important to say that it wasn’t just him as the collective was superb with a lot of big characters in the changing room.

After Accrington, you moved to the then Welsh champions, TNS. How did that move happen?

It was a good experience but it was a shame that I didn’t play as much as I aimed to when I moved there. Nevertheless, it was a very good experience as I got to experience the Europa League. We went to play FC Midtjylland and were unlucky over both games to be honest.

Credit: TNS FC

It was a great learning experience as the club is expected to win every single game and it breeds a winning mentality. It was similar to Accrington in that respect as we were pushing for promotion from League 2 so it was no different in that respect.

I’ve always aimed to take that winning mentality everywhere with me from a young age.

Credit: TNS FC

You had a loan spell at FC United of Manchester. How would you sum up that experience?

It was a difficult time for the club as we were in a relegation battle. If I was able to play for the club in different circumstances I’m sure my time would have been more successful.

In terms of the club itself and the fan base, it is a great club and it’s just such a shame that it didn’t work out at that time.

Credit: FCUM

Last season you were at Ramsbottom United and added a lot of goals to your game. How fondly do you look back on your season at the club?

Ramsbottom was such a great season for me. I loved every single minute at the club and I loved the fans. They love the club and supported me from day one as did the staff and all of the players. I was welcome from day one.

I was playing regularly and my confidence was high which was shown by how many goals I scored. It was such a big part of my development to play in a side that relied on your performances as having that pressure on your shoulders is what helps you develop as a footballer. It was a massive season for me.

Who would you say are the best players you’ve played with so far in your career?

Credit: AFC Fylde

I’ve played with a lot of very good players who have played in the Football League for many years such as Richie Baker, Tom Kennedy and Jon Routledge. Jon played in the Premier League with Wigan.

It has to be those three as they’ve taught me a lot from my times with previous clubs.

Credit: TNS FC

On the current FA Cup run, who would you say have been your toughest opponents?

I would say Colchester United as we played them away from home and it was such a tough test.

Getting a result there was amazing as they put a lot of pressure on us in extra time but we held on to the get the result we deserved.

You’ve played against many opponents over the years, who would you say your toughest individual opponent was?

When I was at Bolton, I played against Phil Foden and he was such a talent event at such a young age.

Credit: Brad Tutterow

Last but not least, which coaches or managers would you say have had the biggest impact on your development so far?

I have to say my current manager Neil Young as he’s given me the opportunity to play week in week out and he’s put a lot of trust in me by signing me and making me a key member of the team. He is the standout manager for me.

I also owe a lot to John Coleman who gave me my debut at Accrington Stanley. A moment that I’ll never forget.

Published by Callum McFadden

Football CFB founder. Freelance football writer & broadcaster - Enquiries: footballcfb@gmail.com

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