Xavier Benjamin first interview

Cardiff City’s Xavier Benjamin was a last minute deadline-day signing for Dunfermline. The move came about just as suddenly for the 20 year old who after discovering the opportunity to come north only that Thursday afternoon. He was up at 3:45 on next morning to catch the early morning flight from Bristol to Edinburgh. That enabled him to make Friday his first day training with his new team mates. He explained:-

“It came about late on Thursday. I went into training at Cardiff and I didn’t know anything about this move. I was told by my (Academy) gaffer Darren Purse about it. I just wanted to go because I needed the experience in the next level of my career.

“It has been crazy, packing, travelling, Cardiff is a long, way away but I’m grateful to be here, grateful for the opportunity. I just need to go and show what I can do.”

The player who likes to be known as Xav, pronounced Zav, will be rooming with his Cardiff team mate Malachi Fagan-Walcott who also made the same journey from South Wales almost three weeks earlier, to be on-loan at KDM Group East End Park. 

“We got to know each other at Cardiff but I had known of him when he was at Spurs. I used to be at Fulham and we used to play each other in London.”

Malachi’s text messages to Xav obviously filled in details about the club but when he knew that he was coming to Dunfermline, his own short research immediately revealed how the fans stood out, “they are great and they show passion. When you work hard for them you will always have their backing, which I like.”

Number one attraction however was the possibility of playing first team football, he continued:-

“It is a big thing for me in my career. I am twenty years old, I played last season when I was nineteen in the under 21s and I feel that I can push on now. I’d love to get better each year and I hope the Scottish Championship develops my game.

“The boys have been welcoming, the manager and coaching staff have been welcoming, they helped me settle in and made me feel comfortable and it is easy to talk to people, get to know people.”

Transitioning from U21 football is never easy but Xavier has taken experience from training with the first team at Cardiff. He related:-

“The intensity was higher, faster, better players but I feel that it is time for me to step up my career now and get into the men’s game, keep learning, building and improving.”

Xavier reckons that it was in the youth set up at Fulham that he changed from a boy into a man. He was there from the age of nine until he was eighteen and he said:-

“I really grew up there into a man. I grew in what was really a family to me – the coaching staff and the players. I always have love for them and what they have done, how I developed as a player. Last season I went back just to see a few faces which shows how much love I have for them. Fulham was a great club for me all the way through from nines to eighteens. They helped me get where I’m today.”

Coaches at Fulham such as Ali Melloul, Andrew Joslin, Dan Thomas, Steve Wigley and Tom Hounsell all helped his development and when it came to training with the first team Xavier was grateful to have first team player, Michael Hector as his mentor.

Michael Hector has 38 Jamaican international caps who was on loan at Aberdeen in 2013-2024 and is now at Charlton Athletic. Xavier recalled:-

“He used to come down to under 18 sessions and under 16 sessions to help me as an individual because he is a big centre back. I always want to improve from players who are experienced.”

Xavier revealed midfielder Romaine Sawyers, a big leader in the Cardiff first team has also helped him a lot at Cardiff City.

“Even though he is not the same position as me he still understands the game from a different perspective. He gives me advice about life and in football. I have to give big plaudits to him because he has helped me and made me feel comfortable every time I train with the first team.”

Obviously the 20 year old hopes to make an impact in Scotland but he does not look too far ahead of himself:-

“I made my Carabao Cup debut and my FA Cup debut this season which is good. Thanks to the gaffer, Erol Bulut because he has given me the opportunity to really showcase myself and just experience the taste of men’s football, it has been good for me.

“I will take each day as it comes really and whatever happens happens. I focus on each day as it comes.”

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