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Ipswich Town forward Tete Yengi eager to make first-team impact after bright start with Under-23s

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Of the 20 signings Ipswich Town made during an unprecedented summer of transfer activity, Tete Yengi was perhaps the most left field.

Very little was known about the Australian, who arrived in Suffolk as a free agent in September.

Prior to that the attacker had played for the Adelaide Colts in his homeland before making the jump up to the A-League with the Newcastle Jets. Yengi would go on to make nine appearances – all as substitute – for the Jets ahead of being released earlier this year, paving the way for his move to England.

Tete Yengi has enjoyed his first few months as an Ipswich Town player. Picture: ITFC
Tete Yengi has enjoyed his first few months as an Ipswich Town player. Picture: ITFC

It means that a quick Google search will only provide limited information on the 20-year-old, but he is hoping to change all of that after making a very bright start to life within Ipswich’s Under-23 set-up.

He has scored three goals and laid on two assists for Kieron Dyer’s side, as well as being an unused substitute during the first team’s Papa John's Trophy encounter with Gillingham.

"Last year I was still semi pro before going on trial with the Jets and earning a contract. I didn't get many chances there, but I learned a lot and was grateful for the opportunity," Yengi told Suffolk News.

"Growing up I always watched the Premier League and loved Lionel Messi at Barcelona, getting up at 6am to watch them play.

"There are more opportunities in Europe and my agent had some connections at Ipswich. The club's scouts did their research on me, liked my potential and the club invited me to sign.

"It was tough at first adapting to a different style of play with the Under-23s, but I've got good team-mates and good coaching staff to help me.

"I'm training with the first team at times and that is where I want to be. I want to impress the manager and then when the chance comes I've got to show what I can do.

"You can't look back once the manager gives you a chance and I'm sure it will come if I continue to work hard."

Despite standing at around 6ft 5ins tall, Yengi arrived at Ipswich having spent much of his career playing out wide – a position traditionally associated with players that possess a lower centre of gravity.

It is a role that the Adelaide-born player enjoys, but he is currently learning how to operate effectively in a more central attacking role.

He said: "I've been on the wing pretty much my whole life and it's only been since I came to Ipswich that I started to play through the middle more regularly.

"The people at the club are really helping to develop my game and they felt that my body is more suited to being a number nine, which makes sense.

"I've had a few chats with the coaches and they've been keen to hear my thoughts as well. I'm learning all the time – playing with my back to goal, timing my runs and things like that."

And while competition for places in attack is fierce within Paul Cook's first team, Yengi is relishing the prospect of one day scoring in front of a packed out Portman Road.

"There's big competition with the strikers and there should be at a club like this," he added. "It's healthy competition and it pushes everyone on.

"When the chance comes I'll be looking to express myself on the pitch, have fun, give my all and hopefully score some goals in front of the fans.

"I've been to a few games at it's a great atmosphere. It's very different to Australia. We don't get big crowds out there because it isn't the main sport for a lot of people.

"You can really hear the crowd at Ipswich and I cannot wait to be out there feeling their energy and hopefully scoring some goals to help push the club towards promotion."

Having been impressed with Portman Road, the frontman is also adapting well to life in England off the pitch.

It is a different way of life to back home and the winter months are beginning to bite, but Yengi is embracing the experience.

"I live in digs and the family I am with are helping me out a lot," he said. "It is tough at times being able to speak to family and friends back home because of the time zones, but we can normally get it done in the mornings.

"I like Ipswich. It's quite a quiet town compared to what I'm used to but people have been friendly and helpful.

"It's also getting very cold! Back home we are heading into summer, but that's all part of it."

While Yengi's immediate ambition is to force his way into the first-team reckoning, in the long term he also harbours international ambitions.

The dream is to one day represent his country alongside his 22-year-old brother Kusini, who is currently making a good impression in the Australian top flight with Adelaide United.

"I grew up watching the likes of Messi and Neymar on YouTube, but more recently my brother is the one I look up to," he said.

"He's done everything before me and he's playing really well at the moment for Adelaide. I can learn a lot from how he plays.

"(Playing for Australia) is something I really want to do, and to do it with my brother would be amazing. I'm sure his time will come very soon."

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