Neil Warnock’s heart must have missed a beat or two when new signing Isaac Vassell scored the winning goal against Luton Town last weekend.
Why? Because the Bluebirds boss knew that one day the 25-year-old was going to come good and he had wanted to sign him when he was at Rotherham.
In many ways it was love at first sight when Warnock first saw his new striker on a football field. It may have taken the Cardiff City boss three years to finally get his man, but the 70-year-old couldn’t be happier.
Vassell joined Cardiff from fellow Championship side Birmingham City for an undisclosed fee on transfer deadline day and came in just as Bobby Reid moved on to Fulham. It took him four minutes to win over the hearts of the City fans as he bagged the winner in the 96th minute on his debut.
Warnock first spotted his talent when he was playing for Truro City in the Southern League Premier Division South. He predicted a bright future for the now 25-year-old and has tracked his career ever since
“I was at home in Cornwall just before I took over at Rotherham. Somebody rang me and said I ought to go to Truro to see a young lad there who he said was right up my street,” said Warnock.
“I was going that way down past Bodmin anyway, so I nipped in to watch the game. I couldn’t take my eyes off him.
“I thought ‘he is going to go somewhere’. He hadn’t got any experience, he was a raw talent, but I liked everything he did.
“His runs were great, he played up front, wide left and right, his energy levels were good. Wherever I went I wanted to sign him.
“When I took over at Rotherham I asked to sign him, but the chairman didn’t want to go down that route and he went off to Luton. When he went to Birmingham for £3m I said to the chairman ‘do you remember that lad I told you to sign?’.
“I didn’t think he would be available because he has had a good pre-season. I spoke to Lee Clamp, who is at Birmingham, and he said he was right up my street.
“He is fully fit and raring to go and it was a good opportunity for us to get him at a good price because they were signing a lot of players from abroad.”
Now Vassell has been given a chance to repay the faith in him that Warnock has shown by scoring the goals the Bluebirds need to fly back up into the Premier League. He certainly made a great start, especially as he managed only one in 24 games at Birmingham.
“I do like him and I think I can get a lot of out of him, but he has a lot to prove. A lot depends on how you play him,” added Warnock.
“At Birmingham he played with Jay Adams and Lucas Jutkewicz and he didn’t get many chances to play where I want him to play. If he’d been a good goal scorer I wouldn’t have got him for that money.”