A man who first encountered Tendayi Darikwa as a wet-behind-the-ears teenager at Saltergate, believes he’ll be a breath of fresh air for Nottingham Forest.
Shane Nicholson expects the ex Town right-back, who has just sealed a seven-figure move to Forest from Burnley, to ‘play out of his skin’ in the city of his birth.
The former Spireites player and fitness coach recalls Darikwa as an energetic 15-year-old at Chesterfield.
“If there’s any young kid need inspiration, they need to look at Tendayi,” he said.
“He won’t mind me saying that as a young kid he wasn’t the most talented footballer, that’s for sure.
“When he was 15, he came in with Craig (Clay). Dave Bentley brought them in and said they might be joining the academy so they had a session with me at the Saltergate ground.
“They showed great energy and enthusiasm in and around training and that’s half the reason they’d get new contracts.
“Tendayi was polished and polished and polished and got the (Burnley) move he so richly deserved.”
Darikwa spent two years with the Clarets before joining Forest and has linked up with Nicholson again this summer to work on his conditioning.
It came as no surprise to the man who had two stints as a Spireite, that Darikwa opted for a move back ‘home.’
“He did tell me about it and I know there were a few other clubs involved, but Tendayi being from Nottingham he wanted to play for his own city. You can’t blame him for that.
“He got his dream move to the Premiership and that didn’t work out, but it doesn’t matter because he got a fantastic experience and now he’s moved on to another good club.
“He’ll be playing in his home city, which will be incredible for him.”
Nicholson believes it’s a good fit for the right-sided player, given the way Mark Warburton has set his team up in the past.
“I watched them the last game of the season when I went to support Jamie Ward and obviously they needed to win to stay up,” he said.
“The way they were playing, three at the back with wingbacks, it fits Tendayi down to a tee, it really does.
“It’s absolutely ideal, he’ll just get up and down.”
Playing in front of his own people in Nottingham might add weight to the expectations already put on the 25-year-old, but Nicholson doesn’t believe it will faze him.
“I don’t think he’ll feel the pressure because he’s at home,” he said.
“His last few months at Chesterfield you’d get people giving him stick and pressure only comes in football through your own fans.
“I get this question a lot, it’s only when your home fans give you grief.
“Forget the away fans, that’s just pantomime. When home fans give you grief because they think you’re not pulling your finger out, then you’ve got trouble.
“But he’s so energetic, you’ll see him up and down the pitch all the time.”
And he’s backed Darikwa to repay the faith and financial outlay Forest have shown.
“You get, I think, a good, steady Championship player.
“People might laugh at me saying that but I think he had a good year there with Burnley and Forest have got a good player.
“He’s at the right age, will want nothing else than to play out of his skin in his own city.
“Sometimes his final ball, like everyone, it can be off but he works at it still, tirelessly.
“I think he’ll be a breath of fresh air for Forest.”