HITMAN JOSH IS HERE FOR KEEPS

How he swapped gloves for goals

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Char­lie Ben­nett

THERE was a time when Josh Ma­gen­nis would have hated see­ing the ball fly into the back of the net three times. Now, the Charl­ton Ath­letic striker says his first ca­reer hat-trick against Bris­tol Rovers was one of the best mo­ments of his ca­reer.

Ma­gen­nis started out as a goal­keeper, join­ing Cardiff City from Belfast side Glen­toran as a 17-year-old, but was told he was not good enough be­tween the sticks by then academy man­ager Neal Ard­ley.

The North­ern Ire­land in­ter­na­tional thought he was head­ing back to his home town, Ban­gor in County Down, to pur­sue a ca­reer out­side foot­ball.

But Ard­ley, now AFC Wim­ble­don boss, saw some­thing in Ma­gen­nis and opted to trans­form him into a goalscorer, rather than a goal­keeper.

The 26-year-old ad­mits he had doubts, with his team­mates at the time in­sis­tent the club were ridi­cul­ing him, but his strength of char­ac­ter and nat­u­ral abil­ity led to him mak­ing the grade.

And that switch sparked a ca­reer which has seen him turn out for Aberdeen, Kil­marnock and now Charl­ton – while he also rep­re­sented North­ern Ire­land at Euro 2016.

“I was told I was not go­ing to make it at Cardiff and I thought I would go back to Ire­land, try my hand at rugby and get a job like ev­ery­one else,” ex­plained Ma­gen­nis.

Con­tract

“I have been through it all. I had play­ers at Cardiff say­ing it was a dis­grace and that they were mak­ing a show out of me and I was won­der­ing if they were right.

“But, out of 14 sec­ond-year schol­ars, I was the only one who got a pro­fes­sional con­tract.

“The lo­cal pa­per said the club was mak­ing a farce of it and could not believe they had not bought an­other striker. That was hard.

“I have had to go through a lot of ad­ver­sity, or ban­ter as they call it, but as long as my be­liefs are big­ger than their doubts then I will never be wor­ried. There is a fine line be­tween cock­i­ness or ar­ro­gance and con­fi­dence, and I think I have found the right line. I have that mind­set and I will keep build­ing on it.”

Ma­gen­nis joined Charl­ton in the sum­mer from Kil­marnock, but it has been a tough sea­son for the Addicks – due to their well-doc­u­mented off-the-field is­sues and the sack­ing of man­ager Rus­sell Slade in Novem­ber, to be re­placed by Karl Robin­son.

Im­por­tant

But, with seven points from nine be­fore yesterday’s south Lon­don derby with Mill­wall, the signs are brighter. Ma­gen­nis’ hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Bris­tol Rovers ear­lier this month has gen­er­ated a feel­good fac­tor at the club as they start to creep back into the play-off pic­ture.

The pow­er­ful for­ward is thriv­ing un­der Robin­son af­ter ini­tial con­cerns. His third goal against Rovers com­pleted a mem­o­rable day for the Ma­gen­nis clan, with son Jen­son cel­e­brat­ing his sec­ond birth­day.

“The whole fam­ily were down and I had peo­ple down from my partner’s side, so it was just a good day all-round,” added Ma­gen­nis.

“You are go­ing into the un­known and ev­ery­one is start­ing from scratch when you get a new man­ager.

“You will have play­ers who were not start­ing who would have said ‘the regime is over, maybe the new guy will like me’.

“Ev­ery­one feels they are start­ing with a new slate. All the boys who were play­ing reg­u­larly, like me, will have been won­der­ing whether they would con­tinue to play.

“Rus­sell took to me like a duck to wa­ter and I did not want that to be jeop­ar­dised with who­ever came in and, praise God, it has car­ried on un­der Karl. We re­ally hit it off.

“Now, I just want to make sure I’m part of a win­ning team. That’s im­por­tant for a club this size. The dream is to play in the Premier League with the club.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

LOOK, NO HANDS: Charl­ton Ath­letic’s Josh Ma­gen­nis, a for­mer goal­keeper him­self, chal­lenges Mill­wall’s Jor­dan Archer

GREEN FOR GO: Ma­gen­nis in the colours of his na­tive North­ern Ire­land

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