STAGS SIGN JOHNNY HUNT
Versatile left-footer pens Stags deal
mansfieldtown.net, 23rd May 2017
Mansfield Town have clinched the signing of versatile left-sided former Chester man Johnny Hunt.
The 26-year-old is highly competent at either left-back or left midfield and is widely regarded as an unfulfilled talent.
Liverpool-born Hunt progressed through the Wrexham academy and made his debut for the Dragons in 2010 against Oxford United.
He was part of the Wrexham side which won the FA Trophy in 2013. The match with Grimsby finished 1-1 after extra time and Hunt stepped up to coolly slot home the winning penalty in the shootout.
The classy left-footer made over 100 appearances for the North Wales side, scoring 13 goals, before securing a move to League Two side Cambridge United prior to the 2014/15 season for an undisclosed fee.
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Stating a desire to move closer to home, Hunt left the Abbey Stadium at the end of the season and joined National League side Chester and netted on his competitive debut in a 1-0 win over Braintree.
He was a virtual ever-present in the 2015/16 and the 2016/17 seasons for the Blues.
"Johnny is a young man who first came to my attention when I was first team manager at Rotherham United and he was at Wrexham," said manager Steve Evans. "He had an outstanding season.
"I can remember watching him score the winner in the FA Trophy final before being sold to Cambridge for an undisclosed fee. A few months later he went back up to the north-west and I understood at the time that he was a little bit homesick, being young and away from home.
"I have spoken to the people at Cambridge during the last couple of days just to talk about character and they said that he was a wonderful talent.
"He has matured and I have watched him a few of times, along with Paul Raynor and our head of recruitment. The reports I have received have been very positive.
"Whatever people say about non-league, it's a special place and I love it. There are good players in there and we've certainly got one of the best coming out of it."
The deal is subject to ratification from the EFL.
McGuire's glowing report enthuses Hunt
New signing Johnny Hunt has praised the influence of former Stags' midfielder and current academy coach Jamie McGuire in his decision to sign for the club.
The former Chester man became manager Steve Evans’ tenth signing of the summer when he put pen-to-paper on a deal at One Call Stadium yesterday.
And Hunt, 26, has revealed a phone call with former midfielder McGuire encouraged him even further to join the Stags.
“I spoke to Jamie McGuire on the phone [on Monday] night and he had nothing but good words to say [about the club]," Hunt said.
"He said I’d love it here and I just had to take that, I didn’t really need to speak to anyone else.
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“He’s been here the last couple of years and he said what way the club’s going and that was good to hear from him and I couldn't wait to get here and sign.”
Although he has previous experience of League Two with Cambridge United, Hunt is relishing the opportunity to play in League Two again after four years in the National League.
“Obviously I’m stepping up and it’s a challenge again and it’s one I’m looking forward to. League Two, with the squad the gaffer’s putting together here, it’s one that this club wants to get out of and it’ll be good to be fighting at the top end.
“I want to be part of a team and a squad that’s looking to win things and get promoted and as soon as you speak to people around the place, that’s all they want to do. They want to get out of League Two and I’m looking forward to being part of that.
“I’ll work hard now and I’ll be ready to be part of a squad and fight for my place in the team and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Our newest signing is cousins with Paul, Stephen, Liam and Callum Smith - all professional boxers - and Hunt believes the competition between the relatives helps to keep him focussed.
“I come from a strong family and they’re the ones that make me want to work hard. My cousins, four boxers, and my younger brother who plays as well, we’re all very competitive and they push me on and I look to support them as well.
“They never let me take my foot off the gas. There’s no shortcuts with them around, that’s every day as well, I’m close to them so it’s a good thing and it only helps me.”
To view Johnny Hunt’s first interview at the club, login to Stags PlayerHD.
Latest | May 2017