FORMER READING AND HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN youth player Zidan Akers has signed for AFC Totton, arriving on a permanent deal from Beaconsfield Town.
The forward, who can play anywhere across the front three but usually operates as a right winger, began his football career as an Under-18 in the youth ranks of Reading before his release in July 2016, when the chance of a new start in Scotland arose through the Tynecastle Park club.
Still establishing himself in the men’s game at the time, he was loaned out to Scottish League One side Queen of the South, and played for the Hearts U23 side, too.
After leaving Edinburgh, Zidan returned to southern England with Maidenhead United. But struggled to secure a first team place at York Road, so moved on to Basingstoke Town for whom he became a regular participant.
The COVID-19 pandemic cut his time at ‘Stoke shorter than it might otherwise have been and, after a brief stint at Thatcham Town, his next port of call was Hungerford Town.
Spells at the now defunct Walton Casuals, Bracknell Town and Beaconsfield Town followed; Zidan was in the starting XI when AFC Totton beat The Rams 2-0 at their Holloways Park Stadium in November.
“I enjoyed my time at Beaconsfield, but when a club like Totton who are challenging for promotion at the top end of the table comes in for you, it’s hard to say no,” said the 25-year-old Zidan.
“When I came to visit the club and have a look around the facilities, I was very impressed with what I saw and Jimmy Ball said all the right things to convince me that this was the place for me to come to continue developing my abilities as a footballer, to get as high in the game as I can.”
Tall, athletic and energetic, Zidan is a handful for defenders. During the week, he works as a self-employed strength and conditioning coach, and confirms that he has a proven track record for making positive contributions in terms of goals and assists during the latter periods of matches.
“My record has generally been about 7-to-15 goals a season throughout my career. But I haven’t come here to sit on the sidelines or to be on the fringes of the team; I want to be part of it and to help this team get ourselves as high as we can, to take the club forward as soon as possible.”
Having been an unused substitute against Gosport Borough, Zidan was a starter in both the 3-3 draw at Hendon and the 2-2 draw at Swindon Supermarine, in which he was unlucky not to score with a fierce shot that crashed back off the bar.
Stags boss Jimmy Ball said of his new signing:
“I’ve been keen on signing Zidan since I saw him playing for Beaconsfield ahead of our game against them earlier in the season, and I thought he was their most dangerous player in the game at Holloways Park.
“He gives us something slightly different to what we already have in the squad, so I’m pleased to have completed the process of bringing him to the football club and I’m looking forward to working with him and watching him play his part in what is already a very good AFC Totton team.”
By Ben Rochey-Adams