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Ebbsfleet United defender Yado Mambo worked in Waitrose to pay the bills when he was injured after being released by Charlton Athletic

Yado Mambo
Yado Mambo

The road to recovery has been long and painful for Ebbsfleet defender Yado Mambo.

Last year was his annus horribilis – released by Charlton in May and then struck by a serious knee injury while on trial with Colchester.

Mambo had to wait a month before undergoing surgery in August and his rehabilitation dragged into the new year.

He said: "It was a long time, one of the worst times I’ve had in football. I was in a really dark place.

"Being a free agent, you don’t get any income, so I had to work. I was working at Waitrose for quite a while, serving people on the counter. I had to do it to get by.

"It was a lonely place but, luckily enough, I’ve got good friends who kept in touch, phoned me, to see how I was."

Mambo was on the up last season. In two loan spells, he made 16 appearances for AFC Wimbledon in League 2 and 15 for Shrewsbury in League 1. But when he got injured, he began to drop off the radar.

He said: "There were other clubs (interested in me) at first but they didn’t know how long I’d be out for. I never knew myself, so I couldn’t give them an exact time. After a few months, all the clubs died down because they thought I’d never get back.

"No-one gave me a chance. I rang a few clubs in January but because I hadn’t played games and hadn’t trained, they weren’t going to waste their budget on me. I needed someone to take a risk, to have faith in me."

That someone turned out to be Ebbsfleet assistant manager Steve Gritt, who used to run Charlton’s academy.

Mambo said: "I’ve known Gritty all my life. He saw me when I was a pup. I call him the Godfather. I texted Gritty to ask if it was all right to come down and he was supportive. He knew what I’d been through."

Read the full interview in the Gravesend Messenger.

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