–Nigerian striker declares ahead FA Cup tie
After a two-and-a-half year absence from English football, Yakubu says he is fit and ready to fire Reading to Wembley should he be given the chance.
The striker grabbed the first goal of his Royals career last month, notching almost immediately after coming off the bench to seal a 2-1 win at Derby County in the fifth round, marking a dream return after a stint playing in China and Qatar.
It has been over a month since the Nigerian international arrived in Berkshire, but after several further cameo appearances since his strike against the Rams, the 32-year-old says he is ready to shoot his side into the last four at the expense of Bradford City on Saturday.
“I always believe, no matter where I’ve played, that I will always score goals. It’s just down to me to take my chance,” he said.
“If I can get the chance of 90 minutes then I will take it. I always believe, I always have confidence and I know I can do it.
“Whenever the manager feels it is right for me to play then I will take my chances.”
He continued: “I’ve been here over one month and I’m fit now. It’s not easy coming back to England after two and a half years away, but I’m here to help the team, I’m fit and ready.
“Every player wants to play but you have to give credit to those that have been playing. It’s not easy [being on the bench], but whenever I’ve been needed I’ve been ready to give it my best.
“As a player, you are always eager to play, no player is happy to sit on the bench, but we stick together as a team.
“For me, I’m not frustrated, I’m just ready to take my chance. I’m 100 per cent fit, so it is up to the manager, he is the one to make the decision – but whenever he thinks I’m ready then I am ready.”
When he left Blackburn Rovers in 2012 to move to Chinese side Guangzhou, many thought that would be the last they would see of Yakubu playing in England.
But the forward says he never ruled out a return, and after goal-laden spells at Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton, Leicester City and Rovers, he is looking to realise one more dream in an already distinguished career.
“I never closed the door on coming back to England. I always believe that in football you should never say never.
“I left here two-and-a-half years ago and then I had to chance to come back here and I took it. For me to be here is great – England is one of the best places to play football.”
And having missed out on a Cup Final appearance with Everton in 2009 through injury, he revealed his burning desire to play at the national stadium.
“Yeah I do, I had the chance to do that with Everton but I was injured when we played against Chelsea,” he added.
“Now I have the chance to do it again – if we can go through to play at Wembley then it is going to be great. It would be special. Every player wants to play at Wembley.”
League One side Bradford stand between Yakubu and his Reading team-mates realising their aspirations, and although Steve Clarke’s side may be a division higher, the veteran goalscorer knows it will be no easy task to overcome the Bantams at Valley Parade.
Yakubu scored the winner against Derby County in the last round.
“It’s not going to be easy as we still have a game to play. It’s one game and we could be there [at Wembley], but when you look at the team we are going to play, we know they are a good side and they fight for each other. They stick together and make it difficult for any players that play against them.
“So we are not getting carried away, we will give it our best and hopefully we can go through.”
He concluded: “We just need to be calm and ready to go. It’s not going to be easy, these guys are giantkillers. They fight for each other and make it so difficult. If we give them chances then they are going to punish us – that’s football.
“They’ve had a good run already, and they have a dream too to play at Wembley, but so do we.
“It’s like a dream come true for the players, win one game and you will be at Wembley, and we will give everything to be there.”