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First team

Zemura's rapid rise

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Jordan Zemura makes his first-team debut this evening, marking the latest step in the left-back's rapid rise with the Cherries.

Zemura joined the club in May 2019 after a successful trial, becoming a key player in Shaun Cooper's under-21s side as well as being regularly invited to train with the first team.

Ahead of the current campaign, the 20-year-old came off the bench to play in both of the Cherries' pre-season matches – away to Benfica and West Ham – before earning his maiden competitive chance from the off against Crystal Palace.

Last season, the left-back sat down with the club's MATCHDAY programme team ahead of the Premier League Cup game with Nottingham Forest to talk about his opening months in Dorset.

What were your opening ideas of the club?

Since coming here, I’ve seen that it’s a massive family. It’s not my first time moving away and living in digs but coming to Bournemouth is two or three hours away from home. The first people I lived with were so caring and lovely and made me feel at home.

I do get homesick and miss my family but the club welcomed me and the ethos is right there as soon as you arrive: work hard and be AFCB fit. I could see that straight away and I wanted to be a part of it.

Does that ethos away from the pitch also extend on to it?

One hundred percent, in training exactly what is laid out is what we have to do on a matchday. That’s the only way you can play better and gain more and more experience in how you do certain things.

For instance, the day before a match with the under-21s, we will vigorously work on a certain kind of shape, certain movements and you’ll wonder whether it will happen in a game.

Then you kick-off and all the patterns we’ve worked on and the secret things we do to unsettle the opposition are laid out right in front of us. It’s surreal how important the details are.

With that in mind, do you have to be especially football smart here?

Of course. I kid you not, with the names we have for certain plays you could easily get lost! If I said ‘Dennis’ no-one would know what I meant except my team-mates; you have to be ready and it’s not just what you do with your feet, it’s in your mind as well.

When you see a player in a position in your head, you have to react and quickly get to where you need to be. You have to be brain smart, the coaches always tell us how vital awareness is and you can’t just be reactive to what’s happening.

You have to be proactive, when you’re reactive you might think things are fine then you look up and a player could have moved past you.

You’ve also trained and played with the first team, how have you found that?

It's been good, and everything we’ve done in the under-21s with Shaun Cooper is almost exactly the same. With the first team, it’s a little bit more intense and with more details because you have to have that.

As younger players, that’s what we’re aspiring to be and Coops tells us that any experience we get with the first team is gold.

When we train with them, we see the same movements we use with the under-21s, it’s the care and detail that you see all the way up from the younger levels to the first team. That makes you feel more comfortable in what you’re doing.

How do you cope with the big matches?

It’s brilliant, for me personally I’m such a matchday player. Training helps you get better but nothing beats a matchday.

My mum always sends me a text message before games which gets me in the right head shape, my dad will send me over the night before what he wants me to do and concentrate on.

Then I’ll also have a lot of family members at home, watching everything on Twitter and following the game to see how I’m doing.

Your parents moved to the UK just before you were born, how does potentially playing for Zimbabwe make you feel?

The idea of playing for your country is surreal, it’s what you dream of when you’re a kid. Now I’m a bit older and the opportunity could arise I’m really excited, I’m still humble from how I’ve been raised by my family and they tell me not to think too much about something that hasn’t happened yet.

If I could pull on the shirt and represent Zimbabwe then I’d be thinking what I can achieve, how I can help and give another child in Zimbabwe the inspiration to see what can be done.

They’re the next generation, and there is talent both there and in England with players who can represent Zimbabwe. Being at Bournemouth is such a big platform for me, and I want to inspire people and see the country do really well.

What do you see for your progress as a player?

I need to score a few goals, I’ve got a few celebrations that I’ve been hiding away!

For me it’s about improvements, every day I go out on the training field, talking constantly to the manager who says not to take my foot off the accelerator. It’s a long season and I need to keep improving.

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