Offrande Zanzala is hoping his time at Chester FC can help him put an injury-hit 12 months behind him.
The 20-year-old joined Chester on an initial one-month loan deal on Friday and came on as a second-half substitute in the dismal 2-0 FA Cup fourth qualifying round defeat at Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday.
The arrival of Congo-born Zanzala marked manager Marcus Bignot’s first signing as Chester boss, and given the manner of the Blues’ defeat on Saturday it’s likely that he will be handed a chance to shine sooner rather than later.
And having his progress with the Rams curtailed by an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury last season, Zanzala is keen to hit the ground running.
“I was excited that I was able to come here as it’s such a great club to get some experience and I was over the moon.
“I was disappointed with the score, but that is all part of the experience. As a group we have to pick ourselves up for the next game. Hopefully we can switch it and turn it around.
“I was really disappointed being out for the whole season, but that’s part of football and you have to pick yourself up, and I think I’ve done that well.
“Playing for Derby, coming back from a long-term injury I thought I performed well and I’m topping it up a bit coming out here to get more experience and I’m just finding my feet again. It’s a change of environment, a change of team, style of play, it’s different.”
Zanzala had a brief spell on loan at League Two side Stevenage in 2016, but his experience of the men’s game remains limited.
He had been one of Derby’s standout performers in the Premier League 2 Division One, Zanzala is ready to show he can mix it in the senior game.
“Playing for the under-23s at Derby, it is important but coming here at Chester it means a lot, the three points and the fans behind you,” he said.
“It’s totally different. Coming here and playing National League football is different to U23s. In the U23s you have a lot of young players coming through with a lot to learn and still finding their feet. You’re building technically, tactically and physically every day.
“Here you are playing against men and the football is different. It’s quicker and the game means more. It is that importance of knowing how much the game means to the fans, the manager and the players around you.”
Zanzala could make his home debut for Chester on Saturday when they welcome Boreham Wood to the Swansway Chester Stadium (3pm).