Naby Sarr’s first season at Charlton was a difficult one.
The Frenchman’s maiden campaign at The Valley – also his first in English football – ended with the Addicks suffering relegation to Sky Bet League One.
It was a term that by his own admission “was very tough” and, having spent last year on loan in his native France, he’s now back in south-east London with a point to prove.
Sarr has been outstanding whenever called upon by Manager Karl Robinson this season and the 24-year-old says that, despite his strenuous first season at The Valley, making an SE7 comeback was always his target.
“I always wanted to come back,” he said following Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Rochdale. “Two years ago, my year here wasn’t very good and I didn’t want to leave without accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish.
“I wanted to come back here and prove to everybody that I could play for this team.
“No football player wants to play poorly and it was tough with the relegation; that was a tough period but you have to learn from it.
“I had to adapt to the Championship. I was in Portugal and before that I was in France, so it was totally different. I had to take this year to learn.
“My year on loan gave me a lot of experience and games, so when I came back here I had a better understanding. It was a benefit to me and, even though my first year here was bad, it was also a benefit.”
Since his return to the club, Sarr has quickly earned himself cult-hero status due to the impressive performances he has been putting in.
“Naby, Naby Sarr” can now regularly be heard being sung by the Covered End and the defender is delighted that the Valley faithful are appreciating his displays.
He said: “I didn’t really expect it [the singing] but, for me, the most important part is on the field. When you play well everybody can see it, so that was the most important thing for me; to do it for the fans.”
“It’s good and has given me confidence and strength. I am very happy when they scream and shout my name now!”
A big factor in Sarr’s return has been Manager Karl Robinson, a man who the defender is very grateful to.
Sarr said: “We trust each other and have a good relationship. He is direct. When he has something to tell me, he will, whether it is good or bad. The most important thing is that he has confidence in me.
“Karl has brought us some stability. When you have three managers in one year, you don’t. We have that now with Karl and hopefully we can achieve our objective this year and win promotion.”