Femi aiming to help Daggers hurt his former side
12:30 22 February 2013
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Dagenham & Redbridge left back Femi Ilesanmi is hoping to inflict defeat on Wimbledon, the side which gave him his big break in football.
Rewind five years and a 16-year-old Femi Ilesanmi was making his way at AFC Wimbledon and tomorrow he’ll face his old team once again as Daggers look to get back to winning ways in League Two.
The left back made his debut for the club in an Isthmian League Cup tie and enjoyed almost a full season before leaving for Queens Park Rangers.
And the man that gave him his debut that day was former Dons boss Terry Brown.
Ilesanmi admitted he’d always be thankful to the Kingsmeadow club, especially Brown, and he was shocked to see his former boss sacked earlier this season.
“I still remember it from my younger days when I was 16. It was where I made my first team debut and I will always look back with fond memories,” said Ilesanmi.
“I was there for around a season before I moved on to QPR, but I really enjoyed it. It was part time but I loved it there and it’s where I learnt my trade. They gave me a chance and an opportunity so I will always remember them as they helped me on my way.
“Terry Brown was my boss and when he got sacked I was disappointed to hear it because he is AFC Wimbledon through and through. He loved the club, he got the club all the way up from non league to the Football League and for them to do that to him wasn’t nice.”
Now the defender is 21 and on his way to the Daggers has taken in the sights of Salisbury City (very briefly) and Ashford Town before making the switch to Victoria Road.
Since then he has never looked back. He has become something of a crowd favourite at Daggers and finally broke his goalscoring duck at the 88th attempt at Gillingham last weekend in a 2-1 loss.
Ilesanmi admitted a sense of relief but you wouldn’t have told from his celebration on Saturday as he ran away with a miserable look on his face. But why?
“It was because I was angry at half time so I didn’t really want to celebrate,” he added.
“The fans show me a lot of support and it was nice to give something back to them in return but on the same note it’s disappointing that we lost the game. I would have been happier if we had won. As long as we win I don’t care who scores.
“It was alright, I tried to pick out Sam Williams but it just came back to me and I thought just hit it and thankfully it went in the back of the net.”
Despite the loss it was an encouraging performance against the league’s table toppers and Ilesanmi believes that gives them confidence going into Saturday’s game against the basement boys.
“I think it was a great team performance at Gillingham, against the better teams we step up to the plate and that shows you we are capable of beating any side on our day,” he said.
“Against Wimbledon there is no reason why we shouldn’t pick up three points. We are at home where we are very strong. They are at the bottom but we know it’s not going to be easy.”