Now there's a name I haven't heard in a few years - Mustapha Carayol

atomicloonybin aka ALB

Well-known member
“Muz, you’ve got five minutes or you’re coming off,” would ring in the ears of Mustapha Carayol during his days at Crawley from the manager Steve Evans, who lambasted him each time the winger failed to beat the full-back. “You can imagine as an 18-year-old, you’re thinking: ‘Oh my God, I am going to get dragged off after 20 minutes.’ He gave me the tough love that I needed and made me the man I am today.”

Evans is a divisive character, a pantomime villain easier to loathe than love, but his management launched Carayol into a successful career, from his professional debut with Crawley in 2006. Now the 31-year-old is playing for Adana Demirspor – having gone via Middlesbrough, Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Ipswich – in the Turkish second tier where their push for promotion is due to restart on Monday after the season was suspended.

Turkey is the second destination on Carayol’s European tour after he spent last season in Cyprus with Apollon Limassol. “I always said to myself that I wanted to play abroad. I didn’t want to finish my career and I say I just played in England and didn’t get to see other cultures and how they play football.”

There are certainly tales for the Londoner to tell. Carayol was man of the match against Lazio in a Europa League game in Rome, and Apollon finished the group with seven points, an impressive feat considering the other two teams were Eintracht Frankfurt and Marseille. “We played against some big clubs and most of the time their fans ended up clapping us off as they were shocked that a team from Cyprus could play so well. We had a really good team and played good football, so we definitely earned some respect.”

Shining at the Stadio Olimpico is a long way from Carayol’s early days in the game, which included spells at Kettering and Torquay. Before Evans another key figure had faith in the winger: Paul Ince spotted Carayol when the veteran was playing for Swindon and the teenager was in the youth system, taking him to first Macclesfield and then MK Dons where the former England international was manager.

Carayol says: “When I look at the big picture, as a player you scream out for someone who takes a liking to you and backs you, which is what he did. At the time, I was in the middle of nowhere, my career could have gone up or down and he dragged me along with him, teaching me the ropes.

“He always worked a lot with me at MK Dons, always keeping me back after training because he believed I would be more effective on the left and got me kicking with my left foot, making me do 50 crosses a day and in the end I’ve had a career as a left-winger.”

Evans was reunited with Carayol, too, signing him on loan at Leeds to aid recovery from serious injury. Teaming up again allowed the winger to joke to his manager that “you nearly made me quit football as you broke me”. Few players know the Scot better than Carayol. “He loves the hairdryer. I had it that many times it didn’t affect me any more; he would be screaming at me and I would be laughing at him.”

There are few regrets in Carayol’s career but one is that he did not agree to play for Gambia, the country of his birth, sooner despite being offered call-ups from when he was a teenager. Having now earned seven caps, he has experienced how big football is there. “I have never played in anything like it, even in Turkey, where the atmospheres are incredible. In Africa the atmosphere is unreal, the stadium is shaking, overcrowded and it just makes memories.

“We played Algeria in a qualifier and ended up drawing 1-1 at home. The game was delayed for an hour and a half as the stadium was overcrowded. They ended up bringing some people down from the stands for safety and letting them sit around the pitch and we played like that. It was literally chills running down your spine hearing everyone cheer and scream. We had to move people out of the way to take a corner.

“The announcer kept having to say if anybody runs on to the pitch, the game is going to get cancelled. I was speaking to [Riyad] Mahrez as he was playing on my side [of the pitch] and he was saying: ‘What is this?’ He must have gone back to Man City and been like: ‘You won’t believe the game I played in.’”

Now the focus is back on the run-in at Adana Demirspor, who sit fourth, two points off the second automatic promotion spot. The city of Adana is a 10-hour drive from Istanbul and has been spared the worst of coronavirus, although no football has been played in the country for two months. Carayol could have moved to Turkey earlier having received offers from Bursaspor and Genclerbirligi while at Forest.

“The main reason why everyone wants to come here is the fans. There have not been many games in England where the atmosphere has been as good. As a footballer that is what you want, as when you know the fans are passionate and the stadium is shaking it can really push you along.

“It’s a well-respected league, a lot of big players come over here. It is a league that is kind to ageing footballers – they like them matured rather than the youngsters. It gives you the opportunity to extend your career and play at the highest level possible.”


Well-known member
He was better than we had at the time and is better than we have now.
That doesn't mean he was a world beater.

Jonny Ingbar

Well-known member
He's improved us when he signed (Mogga IIRC?), but then was rightly moved on when Karanka had a bit of money to spend.


Well-known member
I was in Limassol when the Lazio game was on, unfortunately they moved the venue to Nicosia and the kick off was around ten o'clock. It was like watching the Covid19 games, no crowd. I didn't realise Carayol was playing but I wasn't watching for very long