Lucas Akins delighted to be reunited with Nigel Clough and believes best years lay ahead of him at Mansfield Town
New Mansfield Town signing Lucas Akins, 32, is delighted to be reunited with his old Burton Albion boss Nigel Clough and believes his best years are still ahead of him.
Clough had been chasing his former utility man for a year and finally signed him on Thursday after rumour after rumour had previously come to nothing.
“Once a manager you've had success with in the past goes to another club, people sometimes put two and two together,” said Akins, who made his Stags debut as a second half substitute in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Barrow.
“I have made no secret in the past that I have probably enjoyed my football the most under the current manager here. It was always something that crossed people's minds.
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“To come and have the opportunity to represent this club now is something that I relish and I want to seize the opportunity.”
A former Huddersfield, Tranmere, Stevenage and Hamilton Academicals player, Akins was managed by Clough for six of the seven-and-half years he spent with League One Burton, achieving promotion to the Championship in 2016.
“I enjoyed coming into work every day under him,” he said. “He trusted me and kept it quite simple. He asked me to play to my strengths and that's what I love to do.
“He is someone who inspires you. You go away and you really want to work hard for him as he gives you that trust and responsibility.
“I’ve had real success with him in the past and it’s something that I believe I can achieve again in the future with him.
“It's the way he goes about his business. I think he’s a fantastic man-manager and a fantastic coach. He is someone who simplifies things.
“It is a fantastic coaching staff who assemble good characters, good teams and, most importantly, the way we play football. We play some decent stuff as no doubt the fans have seen of late. It's something everyone can get behind.
“As long as we never get too high or too low I am sure we'll get where we want to be. He is fantastic at keeping everyone level-headed.”
He added: “Clearly it was the most successful period in my life both off and on the pitch at Burton.
“But I see similarities here to there which excites me even more.
“The Burton fans were fantastic and I've heard the fans here are fantastic as well. We all need to support each other as, at the end of the day, we all want the same things.
“It was a fantastic period in my career and I wish them nothing but the best for the future.
“I'm now looking forward to creating some more memories here. I am still incredibly ambitious and hopefully my best years are still ahead of me.”
Akins was also very aware of the huge backing given to the club by owners John and Carolyn Radford and its potential for success.
“I am happy to get the deal done and I'm looking forward to getting on with the job and making an impact,” he said.
“There were lots of factors in deciding to come here. It's a club that I have seen from afar.
“The club is very ambitious. The owners are very ambitious and they’ve consistently tried to achieve success.
“To have the opportunity to come and represent Mansfield is something that I really relish. I’ve come across a lot of people that have been associated with Mansfield Town and they have spoken very highly of the club.”
Akins' versatility is another big bonus for Stags with him playing every position apart from goalkeeper during his time at Burton.
“I like playing up front or on the wings - anywhere in attack, but, and I know it sounds a cliché, I'm happy as long as I am on the pitch and contributing towards positive performances,” he said.
“I just love playing football. We are very fortunate to do what we do and I just hope I can put a few smiles on people's faces.
“My strengths are first and foremost just working hard for the team, assisting other players in any way I can.
“I just enjoy being hard-working and trying to be effective by any means – goals and assists in many positions as no doubt the fans may come to see.
“Versatility is something I believe is one of my strengths as well as availability.
“I have been very fortunate to be available for the majority of the games during my time at Burton and prior to that. I hope that run continues and culminates in success for this club.
“All supporters will believe their club deserves success, but everyone can see what the owners have invested at this club and how great they've been and hopefully they can get some success in the near future and I can help that happen.”
Stags are on a fantastic run of 11 wins in 12 games, but Akins believes the previous barren run of 14 without a win could be a positive factor in the side's ultimate success.
“It’s always easier coming into a team that’s in a good run of form, though earlier in the season when they weren't, that's when characters are really made,” he said.
“The boys have that in their armoury now to call upon if they ever need it again.
“I hope this run continues and that it culminates in success for this club.
“I’d like to try and help the team continue the fantastic run of form that they’re in, and hopefully we can all achieve our goals. I’m just looking forward to getting going now.
“Previously when winning promotion with this manager, we didn’t get too carried away. We just concentrated on the next game and hopefully that will put us on the right path.
“I just really hope I can make a positive difference to Mansfield’s season.”