Al Banguara relishing return under boss Dave Hockaday

New Forest Green Rovers signing Al Bangura says the chance to work with Dave Hockaday was the reason he joined the club.

Bangura, 23, was coached by Hockaday during his time in the Watford academy.

"The fact that Dave Hockaday is the manager, he's the reason I came to Forest Green," he told BBC Points West.

"It's an opportunity for me to get back to my career - I don't want to be sitting down. It's time for me to come back to Hockaday."

Sierra Leone international Bangura started his career as a trainee at Watford at the age of 17 and went on to make 77 appearances for the Hornets first-team.

But his journey to the Championship club, and his first meeting with Hockaday, was far from conventional.

"I was born in the city but my father grew up in the village [in Sierra Leone], where he dealt with a secret society which they wanted me to join," he revealed.

"People in the town knew that I liked to play football and wanted to make it my career. They gave me advice: "if you don't want to do this [service] then you have to leave".

"I went over to Guinea, where I met a French man and he urged me to come over here. He travelled with me to France and then I came to England. But there's loads of things, homosexual things, that he wanted me to do, so I refused.

"I went to the home office to explain myself. Things started to change from there. I started making my way - I found football.

"I met a good man who used to be a chief scout for Watford, Mark Stow. He organised a trial for me and I met Dave there. He looked after me and I started to build my confidence up. I was there for eight months and then I broke into the first team."

Despite settling at Watford, under the guidance of then manager Aidy Boothroyd, Bangura was set for more upheaval.

In 2007, he faced deportation back to his war-torn homeland as he was only given a limited amount of time to stay in the UK.

But backed by Watford owner Elton John, players' unions, MPs and fans, who themselves staged a half-time protest at Vicarage Road, he eventually won an appeal and was given a work permit.

"It taught me to love English football fans," said Bangura. "I just want to make sure I give my fans 100%, they helped me a lot."

Bangura left Watford in 2009 and had a brief spell at Blackpool, but has struggled to find a permanent club since.

He has now returned to England and is ready to settle at the New Lawn: "It's been really hard for me to get into a Championship or League One team. I've had contact with Notts County and the Charlton manager but it wasn't what I was looking for.

"I'm glad to be back as I've been travelling a lot and not really knowing where I stand but now that I'm here I can see my kids whenever I want and I'm happy to be with Dave again.

"For the past nine years I never lost contact with him," he added.

"Everybody says "do you speak to your Dad?" and I say 'yes'. Even when he lost the job in Watford, everyone knew how sad I was when he left.

"I text him after training and said I was really excited to work with him again. I hope we come together and do things well for Forest Green."

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