Zeli Ismail delighted to be back at Walsall
Zeli Ismail is eager to make up for lost time after finally joining Walsall on a permanent basis.
The winger joined the Saddlers on a six-month loan last August and went on to impress in 20 outings for the club.
Both the player and the club were eager to turn that move into a permanent transfer.
But while talks with Bury took place, the Shakers instead opted to recall Ismail to Gigg Lane.
Now though the 24-year-old is a Walsall player after agreeing terms on a one-year deal last month.
And he admits he can’t wait for the new season to start.
“It feels really good to be back,” Ismail said. “I really enjoyed my first spell here.
“It was a shame I had to go back, I wanted to stay but the two clubs couldn’t agree a deal.
“Now I want to better the form I showed in my first spell.
“That is the target. To play well, get assists, get goals and help the team finish high up the table.
“It’s still early days but I’m confident we’ll have a good season.”
Ismail, who came through the youth ranks at Wolves, had a number of clubs chasing his signature this summer.
But his relationship with Walsall’s fans – together with the chance to remain at home – meant he only wanted to join the Saddlers.
“The fans here have been great with me,” Ismail continued. “They have given me so much support and always been so positive.
“They are a big reason why I am buzzing to be back. And it’s also close to home. I have always lived in Wolverhampton. But last year I travelled to Bury every day and back which was tough.
“Now I’m 12 minutes from my house. I’ve got no excuses to be late for training!
“And I’ve got my family around me, which I think is important. You need to surround yourself with the right people.”
Ismail will wear the number 10 shirt at Walsall, the number worn by Erhun Oztumer and Romaine Sawyers over the past few years.
But he doesn't think it comes with any added pressure. "Pundits look at things like that but to me it is just a number," he added. "It's not the number that makes the player."