New-boy admits Wigan Athletic move is second time lucky
The 29-year-old right-back has been brilliant in both of his appearances for Latics to date, in the draws against Rochdale and Fleetwood.
His performances were even more impressive given he hadn’t previously played for more than 18 months, due to a serious knee injury which wrecked his time at Nottingham Forest.
Darikwa, who worked under Paul Cook and Leam Richardson at Chesterfield before moving on to Burnley and then Forest, has been on the Latics radar before.
And he has revealed for the first time how close he came to becoming a ‘Tic years before finally making the move.
“I was seriously close to coming under Paul Cook,” he said. “We held a lot of conversations over one summer, and for whatever reason it didn’t happen.
“But I kept my eyes on Wigan and Paul built a great squad here, and the run they were on last year – before everything else kicked in – was enough to keep them in the Championship comfortably.
“Hopefully we can move up this league and put some building blocks in place for someone to come in and get this club going again.”
Cook, of course, left Latics last summer, but Darikwa admits it was the thought of playing under Richardson again which convinced him Wigan was the right move.
“Leam was a huge factor for me, I know him on a personal level and have known him for a long time,” Darikwa recognised.
“He’s had a big influence on my career from a very young age.
“I don’t know, but if Leam wasn’t the manager here, then I don’t know if I would have done it.
“Taking football out of the equation, he’s a really good man and that goes a long way in football.
“He’s honest, hardworking and I think the way he wants to play he wants to attack and he wants to play a good style of football.
“That does help in a lot of footballers’ minds but, like I said, he’s a really good person off the pitch and it does go a long way.”
Darikwa also took time to sound out a number of former colleagues with Wigan ties before putting pen to paper.
“I spoke to the lads I have played with before – Sam Morsy, Gary Roberts and Dan Gardner – about the situation at the club, and it is a terrible situation to be in,” he acknowledged.
“But I think as a footballer you have to think about what you can do on the pitch, and how you can help with the club progressing.
“With a few more acquisitions, along with the talent at the club, we have more than enough to do that.
“We just need to find some consistency, which I think the club have been doing on the pitch, and been unbeaten in a certain amount of games now.
“I think if we turn a few draws into wins, there is no reason why we can’t do that and bring some positive energy into the football club.
“After so long out, it’s been nice to be back playing first-team football.
“And this is still a big football club.
“There are things going on off the football pitch which have been well documented.
“But it is a great honour to play for Wigan Athletic.
“It’s a good football club, and playing at the DW Stadium every week, there aren’t many better places to do that in League One.”
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