MAKRIS JUST SO CHUFFED TO END HIS LONG WAIT...
AS A striker, a 30-match goal drought to begin your career at a club is far from ideal.
And when you’re also the team’s record signing, that sort of barren run quickly becomes disastrous.
So you can understand why Andreas Makris was so delighted to break his Walsall duck last weekend.
His perseverance was finally rewarded as he netted a stunning 20-yard volley in the 1-1 draw with Oxford, 31 games into his tenure in the west Midlands.
“It’s always nice to score – it has been a long time that I was waiting for this goal!” said the 13cap Cyprus international.
“I had to get through some difficult days here but now I’m stronger and I want to keep doing what I do best. I never gave up and that was a reward for my hard work.
“Of course I was worried and I wanted to get that first goal – my job is to score and it was tough for me not scoring for so long.
“I had a lot of pressure on me and being the record signing added some extra pressure – I had to show why the manager (Jon Whitney) paid so much for me.
“It’s a real boost for my confidence and if I get chances, I’m confident I will keep this going. Now is the time to kick on and do what I know I can.”
The 21-year-old signed for the Saddlers from Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta for an undisclosed club-record fee last summer.
He had been an emerging star in Cyprus – named as the Young Player of the Year in one season and chosen in the First Division team of the season in another. Yet it didn’t prepare him for life in League One.
“English football is very different to Cypriot football,” said Makris. “The league in Cyprus starts after the leagues over here, so I wasn’t 100 per cent ready for the start of the season because I came over quite late.
“In England the leagues are much stronger and physical – it’s not so easy to play. There is more ability in Cyprus but not so much strength or long balls.
“I have always been a fan of English football and I thought I knew what I was getting into but it wasn’t quite what I expected. League One was a lot more difficult than I thought.
“When you play over here you realise, but if you aren’t here you can’t understand how hard it is. The English leagues are the best in the world.”
Walsall reached the play-offs last term, but have had to settle for midtable this time around.
“This year was a building year for Walsall going into next season and the seasons after that,” explained Makris.
“Lots of players left last summer because last year was a really good season for the club. Players moved to other clubs because they had played so well.
“A lot of new players came to the team and you need to give time for them to adjust to the game of their team-mates. That is normal and we will build towards the next seasons.”
QUALITY: Andreas Makris, left, in action for Cyprus against Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Eden Dzeko