When Manchester United had Bruno Fernandes to re-vibrate the squad near the end of the season, Fulham had the DRC’s international, Neeskens Kebano.
The Premier League promotion final push brought fortunes to Neeskens Kebano having scored no goal the whole season but managed to grab five goals in the last five matches.
“Prior to the lock-down, I was just entering games for four or ten minutes or so but since the restart, I began more games,” the 28-year-old told BBC Sport Africa. “So obviously with more time on the pitch, you have more chances to score” he added.
Fulham’s manager Scott Parker had only started him once during an away game against Brentford before the Covid-19 pandemic. Things changed on the restart of the campaign for the former Paris Saint-Germain player as he began the crucial last five games.
“Maybe he felt that it was my moment, that I deserved it for my effort,” explained Neeskens Kebano. “I never gave up, I always worked hard and I took the opportunity when I had one. This is how I earned my place.”
The midfielder scored away to Cardiff City. He scored again at home in the semi-finals of the Championship play-offs. He went ahead to play 81 minutes in the play-off final at Wembley. Fulham beat west London rivals Brentford 2-0 both goals coming in extra-time.
“We are so proud of getting a promotion right after going down,” he added. “Our season was far from perfect but we fought like animals and we got what we deserved. This is why we had crazy celebrations. Fulham is back to the place it belongs.
The unexpected hero joined Fulham in 2016. “In this club, I have my habits here, my family is happy. This is why I feel great in this club,” he explained.
Kebano was born in the Paris suburb of Montereau-Fault-Yonne. He has been rewarded with an extension to his contract until 2022. He is now happy to concentrate with the Premier League as his team is back in the big boys league.
Their last campaign in the top-tier, the 2018-19 season, saw the Cottagers spend the last 30 fixtures in the bottom three before being relegated after just one season in the Premier League.
“I think one of the mistakes was to include too many new players in a team already in place,” he continued.
“I am not a football teacher but it’s definitely the mistake to avoid. Last time, it could have worked but it didn’t.”