Harry Panayiotou knows what people have been saying about him. The Barrow AFC forward is more than aware many Bluebirds fans have not held him in exactly the highest regard over the past year.
He arrived to much fanfare last September, with boss Paul Cox hailing him as the next big thing – an impressive product of the Leicester City youth academy.
Yet, Cox never gave him a chance. He did not start a single match last season, and only discovered what it was like to be in a Cox starting-XI in the manager’s final game before his resignation, at Dover in August.
The St Kitts and Nevis international was training and turning up for matches knowing he was not going to play – it was demoralising.
“The managers before clearly didn’t believe in me,” said Panayiotou, who will line up against Bromley on Saturday afternoon (3pm kick-off). “I would go to the games knowing I wasn’t going to play – which isn’t nice.
“Before, it didn’t matter how I trained, how well I trained, I knew I wasn’t going to get a chance.”
Micky Moore did start him in his first match in charge against Maidenhead, but then it was back to the bench, where he has spent the majority of his 13 months with AFC, coming off it nine times between August and the end of November.
In that time, Panayiotou has heard the suggestions he is not fit enough, is not good enough for Barrow, that there is a reason he has not been starting. But then came Ady Pennock.
The new manager arrived at Barrow last month and has obviously seen something in 23-year-old that he likes. He chose to start Panayiotou at Eastleigh, and again at Gateshead. Rather than deploying him up front, he has played him in a wide supporting attack role – and it has paid off.
Knowing he finally has a manager who believes in his ability, and delighted to be given a run in the team, Panayiotou has impressed.
He put in good displays against both sides, and scored a stunning 30-yard goal to win the match at the International Stadium on Tuesday, earning plaudits for his strike and his all-round display.
He has turned over a new leaf, and from wondering if he would ever get a chance, he has gone to grasping the one presented to him with both hands.
“It’s good with the new manager – he believes in me. That’s what I needed,” said Panayiotou.
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