Match-winner pays tribute to Boro boss

John Mousinho thanks Graham Westley for enhancing his career

SATURDAY’S play-off final match-winner John Mousinho has paid tribute to manager Graham Westley for taking his career to another level following his switch from Wycombe Wanderers last summer.

The 25-year-old midfielder turned down the offer of a contract extension at Adams Park before moving to the Lamex Stadium last July, and says he’s grateful for what Westley has done for him in such a short period of time.

“I’m not sure Stevenage was on my radar before I talked to Graham Westley but when you talk to the man you find out his passion for football and developing players,” Mousinho told The Comet.

“I’ve been lucky enough to work with him for one year now and if you’ve followed my career so far you’d see the leaps and bounds I’ve made under him and it’s incredible.

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“It took me a while to figure things out, but once I settled down and got to know the lads I knew we had the potential to do it (win promotion). I came here with that ambition and I was driven by the manager and what he told me. I had so much belief in him and he had so much belief in this squad and me as well.

“We had a few bumps and tough times along the way but we came through.

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“The feeling is absolutely incredible, really. The achievement will probably dawn over the next couple of days about what we’ve done. To do it in a one-off game is just brilliant but it really is the culmination of the whole season’s work.”

Mousinho’s joy after winning at Old Trafford was in stark contrast to his mood after being red carded during the 2-0 defeat at Northampton Town at the end of April – meaning he would miss the crucial final-day match against Bury and subsequent play-off semi-final matches with Accrington Stanley.

Nonetheless, he repaid his manager’s faith ten-fold after being recalled to the starting XI by scoring the 41st-minute winner at the Stretford End and now insists anything is possible next season in League 1.

He added: “I was disappointed with myself for getting sent off at such a crucial time and what was at the forefront of my mind more than anything was that I had let the team down.

“Maybe that game was already lost but I let the team down in terms of us having such crucial games in front of us.

“But the strength of the squad here is incredible and that showed. We’ve had players like Darren Murphy, Joel Byrom, Stacy Long and Chris Beardsley come in and do a fantastic job.

“We’ve got to focus on celebrating now, get it out of our system, regroup and work harder than we ever have before when we come back in July.

“The opportunity is there for us and we’re going to relish it. There’s no reason why we can’t achieve success if we apply the things we’ve applied this season.”

Westley revealed the reason for Mousinho’s eye-catching displays this season is down to the fact he encouraged and utilised qualities in the player’s game that were perhaps ignored by previous managers.

He has been an almost ever-present in the Boro midfield this year while finishing joint-top scorer at the club with eight strikes to his name.

Westley said: “He’s been regarded as a defensive midfielder throughout his career and he was offered a new contract to stay at Wycombe and play as a right-back. But my feeling on Mous is that he’s got so much more about him than to be limited to that.

“And this year he has shown all of those characteristics – he’s grown as a player and he gives you a forward momentum out of the middle of the park and it was a tremendous strike that won us the game.”

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