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Interviews

Kofi: We’re all in this together

New defender already feeling at home

31 January 2024

Interviews

Kofi: We’re all in this together

New defender already feeling at home

31 January 2024

Kofi Balmer is already feeling the love at AFC Wimbledon after completing a move across South London from Crystal Palace.

The powerful centre-back has been plying his trade at senior level since the age of 16, with his formative years in Northern Ireland helping to develop him into a player that the Eagles brought to the Premier League for an undisclosed fee.

Having already had his first taste of the Football League with Port Vale, the 23-year-old is now keen to show what he can do with the Dons after bolstering our defensive options.

Here Kofi discusses signing for the Club, taking advice from Ethan Chislett, his past career in Northern Ireland, linking up with John-Kymani Gordon and developing under Patrick Vieira and Roy Hodgson.

Watch and read the full interview with our newest signing below!

ON BECOMING A DON…

I can’t wait to get started, meet the lads and hopefully have a good run in. Ethan Chislett is a character, I really got on with him well at Port Vale, he’s had nothing but good things to say about Wimbledon. This was an opportunity that was too good to turn down.

ON PORT VALE…

It was a good experience – whether things go well or bad you have to take things as they come. I enjoyed my time there but unfortunately it didn’t work out as well as I would’ve wanted.

ON NORTHERN IRELAND LIFE…

Back home I started off as a kid playing football for a team called Linfield. I wasn’t really getting into the reserve team or getting on the bench. Me and my Dad decided to move to Ballymena United, from that point onwards I became really fortunate because the senior team had a lot of injuries, so I got my chance.

I was put in for one of the biggest games of the season, it was a derby, we needed a draw or a win to secure a play in the Europa League play-offs. I started the game and I scored an equaliser on my debut to secure that place in the play-offs. To get that experience so young has helped me. I’ve been able to read the game. I’m still learning and willing to learn off the players here.

ON MOVING TO PALACE…

It was a shock! I was actually at an international camp and one of my mates had texted me, saying that he’d heard a rumour that I was going to Palace. It was the first I’d heard about it, so I kept texting him wondering if it was true!

It turned out it was. I didn’t really know what to say – as cliché as it is to say, it is every boy’s dream to play for a club in the Premier League. It was surreal but I knew I had to take it in my stride as that’s the only way you can kick on. I’m grateful that they came in for me.

ON WORKING WITH VIEIRA AND HODGSON…

It was very good. Vieira was more keen on the younger players, even in training. The first couple of sessions that I went across to be involved in were real pinch yourself moments because I was star struck. He was keen on helping you to improve in every game.

Just to get on the bench in the Premier League was amazing. It was another great experience, to take in the atmosphere and see the standards up close that don’t get seen on TV. For him to involve me told me I was doing something right. I feel like my foot is in the door and that I can play at that level, even now with Roy coming in. He talks to you and tries to keep you involved.

ON LINKING BACK UP WITH JOHN-KYMANI GORDON…

The fact I know him already is an icebreaker but I have no issue with getting to know the other lads. I like going out of my comfort zone. Having JK here with me will be a big helping hand because he knows how I play, we’ll help each other on and off the pitch.

ON THE STRENGTH OF OUR CLUB…

This is a very tightly orientated club. Everyone’s in it together, everyone is going to help you out. If the team was going through a rough time you’d not only have the staff and the players behind you but also the fans. When I came in to speak to the manager the other day I felt wanted.


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