Defender relishes Wimbledon opportunity
Semi Ajayi believes his loan spell at AFC Wimbledon will provide a springboard to further his football career after he was pitched straight into first-team action by Neal Ardley.
Though Ajayi had been on the bench for both Arsenal and Cardiff, he had to be patient for a chance at senior level as last Tuesday’s draw against Northampton Town was his Football League debut.
The towering 21-year-old defender then kept his place for the 2-0 win against Barnet and Ajayi spoke afterwards about making the most of his opportunity.
“It had been a long time coming (senior debut) and I had been close to it on a few occasions at different clubs,” Ajayi said. “It’s a relief to finally get it out of the way. Hopefully, I can now pick-up more appearances. I have only been here for two games, but I feel I’ve learned a lot already. Hopefully, it will continue. Paul Robinson is a really good guy to play alongside. He talks a lot to you and communicates really well. He has so much experience so it’s good to play alongside Paul and learn from him.
“I have relished playing two games in a week. It’s a great opportunity for me to show what I can do. I know about the history of this club as I’m originally from London. It has given me a chance to get back home to my family. I knew that the manager wanted me to come here and go straight into the team. After I heard that, it was not a hard decision to be fair.”
Ajayi, who was speaking during an interview for Dons Player with WDON commentator Rob Cornell, also talked about the buzz of playing in front of a full house at Wimbledon.
“We used to get decent crowds for Under-21 games at The Emirates Stadium, but even if you get 4,000 in a ground like that you don’t really feel it,” he added. “I have relished playing first-team games. I like it when there’s pressure and a crowd with good atmosphere. It brings the best out of me.
“Towards the end Barnet started to just lump the ball forward and they were very direct. I thought that we dealt with it well. We dug in and we worked hard for each other. It’s a great group here and everyone is pulling in the right direction. Everyone knows what they need to do to be successful and that is to produce on a consistent basis. I’ve been made to feel very welcome here. I know James Shea from my time at Arsenal and Ade Azeez from when I was at Charlton. They have made it easier to settle in.”
Interviews with Semi Ajayi, James Shea and Neal Ardley all featured on Dons Player over the weekend, along with extended match highlights from the win against Barnet.