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Archived News from February 2003

1st February 2003 18:20

Evening Post, 01 February 2003

New Stags striker Junior Mendes has gone from passing the ball to Keith Curle at a throw-in to becoming his new striking hope.

The 26-year-old centre-forward, who was signed for an undisclosed fee from Scottish First Division outfit St Mirren on Thursday, was a ball-boy at Wimbledon in the days when Curle played for the Crazy Gang at Plough Lane.

Mendes said he had no hesitation in signing for the man he used to idolise when he was a youngster.

He said: "When I was a kid, I lived in Tooting in the same road as Mark Morris, who used to play for Wimbledon, and I would see Keith Curle from time to time.

"I was on schoolboy forms at Wimbledon and I also used to be a ball boy at Plough Lane when he played and as soon as I heard he was interested in signing me, I had no hesitation."

After being released by Glenn Hoddle when he was manager of Chelsea in 1996, Mendes has played most of his football in Scotland and now the Londoner is looking to make his mark back south of the border.

He became Curle's third permanent signing, following in the footsteps of defender Rhys Day and midfielder Tom Curtis.

Mendes said:"I started off at Chelsea, but I didn't really get my chance after Glenn Hoddle arrived.

"Then I went to St Mirren and, in our first season, we got promoted to the Premier League and I played there for Dunfermline as well.

"The Premier League is definitely a good standard of football, but the first division is a little bit more kick and rush.

"When I played in the top division, I always seemed to be injured or suspended when we played at Rangers or Celtic. But I was lucky enough to play at Celtic Park last week in the Scottish Cup.

"I think I will be playing at a higher level and it is a step up. But I want to get on the scoresheet as much as I can or, if not, get as many assists as possible.

"I have been looking to come back to England for some time. But it is always a little bit difficult when you are playing in Scotland because people think it is not a good level but, now, I am looking to make my mark.

"I have got pace and a half-decent touch and I think I have got a pretty good awareness of what is going on around me on the pitch.

"I don't score as many goals as I would like to, but I think I have got other qualities and am not just an out-and-out goalscorer."

His time at Chelsea was tough and he is now looking to rebuild his career in England.

He said: "I went to Chelsea because, under David Webb and Ian Porterfield, they were the team to go to if you were a young player looking to get your chance.

"But when Hoddle came, that all changed and we would look on the board to see a reserve team worth £20million.

"It was a real cause for celebration if you managed to get into the reserve team.

"But I think I have done my apprenticeship now and I am looking to make my mark here."


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