Committed Christian Ira Jackson has thanked Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley as well as God for helping him earn his dream move to Grimsby Town!
The 23-year-old former Ashford, Dover Athletic, Leatherhead, Margate, Ramsgate, Whitstable Town and Worthing striker hailed Cugley as the “best manager in Non-League” after signing for Ian Holloway’s League Two Mariners.
Jackson, pictured, was snapped up after netting 21 times in the Isthmian League’s Premier Division and bagging 26 in total for Invicta before Covid-19 ended the campaign and their title charge.
The hot-shot had already attributed his success to his strong faith before the onset of the Coronavirus crisis, telling The Non-League Paper back in February: “This is the best season I’ve had and God is a big part of that.”
All the honour and glory goes to God for this opportunity that I’ve received at @officialgtfc to play in a team with such great history and a manager in @IanOllie7 who believes in me! I’m excited to get to work and to help this club get back to where it belongs! ?? pic.twitter.com/oJ3Pc9ifrb
— Mr PC (@IraJacksonJr) August 11, 2020
The striker, who’s following in the footsteps of Johan Ter Horst and Harry Smith who also made the big step up into the pro game after playing under Cugley, believes he’s swapped one top boss for another.
He told Grimsby Town’s website: “I just want to thank my manager at Folkstone Invicta for giving me the opportunity, Neil Cugley.
“He is definitely the best manager in the Non-League and now, it’s an opportunity for me to be with, who I consider to be the best manager in the EFL in Ian Holloway. I’m looking forward to being at work!
“I felt this season was going to be very important for my career and knowing Christ has been essential for me. I’ve been more directed in my decisions.”
He added: “Having a rooted relationship with God has definitely helped me with my football. It’s kept me grounded during the successes I’ve had this season.”
We all love a video compilation ?
— Grimsby Town F.C. (@officialgtfc) August 11, 2020
According to the player, working with Holloway was the key factor in his decision to ignore other suitors and choose Blundell Park. “I think he was pretty much 95% of the influence in me coming here, to be honest,” declared Jackson.
“As soon as I heard that Ian Holloway was interested in me as a player and some of the stuff he was saying to me and my Dad about me as a player and what I could potentially go on to do, it was like a godsend.
“It’s a perfect opportunity to come work under a manager with Premier League experience and I want to push on. It’s about taking this opportunity well and I want to thank God for this opportunity to progress in my career.”
Holloway said: “He’s a two-footed centre-forward who scored a lot of goals last season. He’s been concentrating on a degree at 23 years old and now he’s finished that, he’s going full-time.
“He’s had lots of choices but he’s chosen us and I’ve chosen him so I am absolutely delighted at it. He gave me a really good time yesterday and I can’t wait to work with him really.”
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Images courtesy of The Non-League Paper, Grimsby Town/Sam Strandt & @officialgtfc/Twitter