Chesterfield: ‘I might look crazy, but I like to win,’ says Spireites number nine

Pre Season - Chesterfield vs Shrewsbury - Armand Gnanduillet - Photo by James Wiliamson
Pre Season - Chesterfield vs Shrewsbury - Armand Gnanduillet - Photo by James Wiliamson

Armand Gnanduillet has often been an unpredictable force on the pitch for Chesterfield FC since he joined the club 18 months ago.

The striker, born in Angers, in France, boasts under 21s caps for Ivory Coast and had played at Le Havre and AS Poissy before a surprise call from England saw him head for north Derbyshire.

A seemingly quiet character - on first impressions - he was softly spoken as he addressed the assembled press through an interpreter on a rain-soaked January afternoon in 2013.

He knew little about the area, needed time to get used to his new surroundings; players; climate; language and raised more than a few eyebrows when he likened his game to that of English centre-forward Andy Carroll.

He was given a short cameo a few days later in a home game against Southend United and went on to score three before the season’s end as the Spireites narrowly missed out on the play-offs.

The then 20-year-old had convinced Paul Cook, the Chesterfield manager, he was worth persisting with and was rewarded with a two-year deal to remain at the Proact Stadium.

He featured heavily, often from the bench, during the Spireites’ League Two title winning campaign, scoring six goals - not including an outstanding long range drive against Long Eaton United in the Derbyshire Senior Cup, which came moments after he had missed the target from point-blank range - during a memorable time for the club and player.

And, following an encouraging pre-season, Gnanduillet will don the number nine for Chesterfield and is eager to establish himself in the first team in League One.

He said: “I hope to have a good season in the number nine shirt. I’m ready and feel like I’ve had a good pre-season. The games are coming fast and I hope we can do really well.

“To score a hat-trick at Alfreton was a good feeling. We did well as a team on that day and for me it was pleasing. It’s only pre-season so it’s now up to me to repeat that in the league.

“When I get on the pitch I feel good. Against Aston Villa I felt good and against Leeds I felt good. I made a couple of mistakes but I’m still learning the game.”

He laughed when reminded of the incident at Exeter City in December of last year when he swiped his gloves off in an exchange of words with Danny Butterfield, which saw both of them cautioned.

He cuts a relaxed figure, despite his physical presence, off the field and is keen to let his football do the talking in the future.

“I need to be more relaxed, less worked up and don’t fight on the pitch. At the moment it’s good so I hope to carry that on. Sometimes I might look crazy but I like to win.

“This season I will keep my head down and just walk away and get on with the game. We have a good squad and everyone gets a lot of confidence from the gaffer. I hope to give back to him this season,” he added.

Enigmatic, mysterious, flamboyant; it’s difficult to predict what might happen next with Gnanduillet.

One thing is for sure, his understanding of English has certainly improved.