In an exclusive interview, Ivan Toney has revealed his desire to repay Brentford as he returns from his eight-month ban from football next week; watch Toney’s Brentford return to Premier League against Nottingham Forest live on Sky Sports on January 20; kick-off 5.30pm
Ivan Toney says he wants to repay Brentford by getting them out of a relegation battle during the second half of the season after the support the club showed him during his eight-month ban from football.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports and the Daily Mirror, Toney spoke in-depth about his time out of the game after serving his ban for 232 breaches of the FA’s rules for betting on football.
The Brentford striker, who has been out since the middle of May, will return to the Premier League for their home game with Nottingham Forest on January 20, live on Sky Sports.
Toney will return back with speculation over his Brentford future – with the striker linked to both Arsenal and Chelsea – and question marks about whether he is the same player who scored 20 Premier League goals last season.
But the England international is confident he can help Brentford avoid relegation in the second half of the season and is capable of firing them to safety with goals.
“The club was right behind me from the first bit. The fans were behind me, which was a massive part,” Toney said.
“Even when I wasn’t at their games, they were singing my name. And I got loads of messages on social media. A friend of mine sent me a video of the fans singing my name, I got goosebumps to know that they’re still behind me, even though I’m not there.
“Everyone knows Brentford is a family club, they have been nothing but amazing for me. I can’t thank them enough, especially the fans. They were behind me from the first minute as well. So it’s kind of like I have a lot to repay.”
‘When I’m back, I will play a big part’
Toney will return with Brentford in 16th place, four points above the relegation zone and on a run of one win in nine matches in all competitions.
Brentford also have long-term injuries to forwards Bryan Mbeumo and Kevin Schade, while Yoane Wissa is currently at the Africa Cup of Nations with DR Congo.
With key players such as Aaron Hickey and Rico Henry also on the treatment table, Brentford players have accumulated the most missed days due to injuries out of any Premier League club this season.
“With Brentford, they’re struggling at the moment but I’m sure when I’m back I will play a big part to get them out of the losing form they’ve been in. I can’t wait to get back and be helping my team-mates,” said Toney.
Asked if there is any pressure to deliver given Brentford’s precarious situation, Toney replied: “Not really no. It’s not pressure, it’s just excitement to get back on the pitch.
“Everybody at Brentford knows I will do my best to try and get the club out of the sticky patch we’re in.
“But there’s no pressure and even if there was, I wouldn’t feel it and that’s what drives me forward.
“Brentford, we’ve been here before and we know how to get out of it.”
‘Brentford have been the biggest help I could have asked for’
Toney also paid tribute to Brentford manager Thomas Frank, along with the rest of the Brentford first team, for giving him support throughout his ban.
The striker also spoke about the impact current Brentford captain Christian Norgaard had in talking about mental health, with former club skipper Pontus Jansson also reaching out to him while he was banned.
“Thomas Frank has been nothing but the biggest help I could have asked for – the whole club has,” Toney said.
“From putting on extra sessions for me, from taking their time out to put a session on and go outside when it’s raining when they’re not supposed to be in. These kind of things, I have a lot to repay them and I can’t wait to try and do that.
“I can go through the whole team who sent me messages. Especially the captain who was there before, Pontus, talking to me about the whole situation.
“Christian Norgaard too. He sat me down and said: ‘how are you? How are you in yourself? Is everything ok?’ And that meant a lot, for someone to actually sit me down and ask me that question.
“My personality is a strong personality and I always am this bubbly person. But for someone to actually sit you down and ask you, even though I’m always good – and even when I’m not good, I will be good – it meant a lot because it showed he actually cared.
“All the other team-mates have been messaging me so for him to come up to me, being a big personality, meant a lot.”
Watch Ivan Toney’s return to Premier League football as Brentford host Nottingham Forest live on Sky Sports on Saturday January 20; kick-off 5.30pm. The game can also be streamed using a NOW TV pass.