Barnsley v Millwall: Andy Yiadom leading from the front

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AS captains go, Andy Yiadom is plainly not the type to deliver inspirational Churchillian speeches to his Barnsley team-mates.

Sometimes, a select word or even a look can be just as effective, after all. In his case, most definitely.

The Reds on-pitch leader may not be a rabble-rousing orator but you get the impression that when he does talk, people listen.

Respect has to be earned and the Londoner has that within the Oakwell dressing room. Deeds and leading by example is where it is chiefly at for him.

Like when he famously dislocated his shoulder and went off for running repairs on several occasions to have it popped back in during last April’s home derby with Sheffield Wednesday – each time returning to the fray before eventually having to succumb to his injury early in the second half.

Lesser mortals would have bowed to the inevitable much earlier.

Andy Yiadom: Determined to steer Reds to safety.

Andy Yiadom: Determined to steer Reds to safety.

That leadership, selflessness and fighter’s heart is something that Barnsley will need in abundance in the forthcoming challenges ahead if they are to secure a third successive season of Championship football.

A granite block of ‘over my dead body’ defiance, Yiadom is someone worth following.

Having suffered the pain of relegation earlier in his career with Barnet, Yiadom does not plan on familiarising himself with that unpleasant feeling again any time soon.

Asked to describe his style of captaincy, Yiadom observed: “I am a leader. A big old leader.

When I was younger, I saw what the older heads did to get the team motivated and that is something I try and do.

Barnsley captain, Andy Yiadom

“I am not one who is going to shout at someone on the pitch just for the sake of it. I will give them a word, so they actually listen to it.

“A word and a look – and I will give them a kiss after.

“It is not just a case of wearing the armband and going out there. It does mean much more than that to me and it did at Barnet. I just want to try and lead the team to do good things.”

Good things to garner from a fraught season of transition would mean second-tier safety. Despite a turbulent campaign and substantial change on and off the pitch, Barnsley remain masters of their own destiny but survival will not be easy.

For the battles ahead, players must draw their motivation from different sources. For Yiadom, brought up in the tough North London suburb of Holloway, it largely comes from within.

The defender is also fortified by his experiences of doing the hard yards in non-league circles with Hayes and Yeading and Braintree before getting his break with Barnet – his Football League platform after being rejected as a schoolboy at nearby Watford.

Certainly no-one can accuse Yiadom of not paying his dues.

An added source of motivation in his quest to keep Barnsley in the Championship comes from his bitter taste of relegation at Barnet in the Spring of 2013. He does not want to sample that pain again.

Determined that he will not – if he has anything to do about it – Yiadom added: “I remember being at Barnet and, unfortunately, being relegated and it is not a nice feeling at all. That is something that is not going to happen again.

“I remember playing Northampton away and it was not a pretty feeling.

“It is not just yourself that relegation affects, but a lot of people’s livelihoods. That is always in the back of your heads as well and something you do not want to happen. No-one wants to get relegated (at Barnsley). Not just me, everyone in the building as well. We are going to do everything in our power not to get relegated.

“When I was younger, I saw what the older heads did to get the team motivated and that is something I try and do.”

Motivation comes easy for Yiadom and, while it is fully expected that this will be his final season at Barnsley, helping the club to retain their divisional status would be some parting gift.

The 26-year-old has taken the decision to run down his contract with a move to pastures new on the cards in the summer.

As it stands, the here and now is occupying Yiadom’s attentions far too much to turn thoughts to the future, although he can rest assured that he will have a fair-sized list of Championship suitors and probable top-flight interest seeking his services.

But that is for another day.

“At the moment, I am concentrating on keeping Barnsley up. That is the main thing at the moment. That is all the matters,” added Yiadom.

“One hundred per cent, we are going to do everything in our power to stay up.”