Mustapha Carayol hopes he has taken a big step towards winning Leeds United’s crowd after a blistering debut goal carried his new club into round four of the FA Cup.
Carayol rose to the occasion 24 hours after joining Leeds from Middlesbrough to set up a 2-0 victory over Rotherham United with a sensational 20-yard finish.
The winger’s 45th-minute strike –smashed beyond the reach of Rotherham goalkeeper Lee Camp – put Leeds on course for a place in tonight’s fourth-round draw and gave him the ideal start to his career at Elland Road.
His arrival on a half-season loan from Boro, coming just four days after fellow Championship club Huddersfield Town moved to cancel a season-long deal at the John Smith’s Stadium, was met with a muted response from United’s fans but head coach Steve Evans praised a “stunning” finish and said Carayol had taken Rotherham “to the clinic”.
Carayol said: “I’m pleased that I’ve pleased some of the fans because I was getting a bit of a battering on Twitter, coming from Middlesbrough and stuff like that.
“I’m not really one that takes anything personally and most of the time I don’t even read the comments but it’s part of football. There are going to be people who write you off and people who absolutely love you.
“I just worry about what I do on the pitch and hopefully they were pleased with what I did. Hopefully there’s more to come from me.”
Evans claimed Carayol had quit his loan at Huddersfield early because he “wanted to join a big club in the Championship” and the Gambian winger – troubled badly by injury last season – backed himself to thrive at Elland Road.
“I like going out and trying to win every game, not being scared of anyone,” Carayol said. “That’s the type of player I am. I think I’m a player who handles playing for a bigger club with my temperament. I don’t go out and give it half-hearted, I always try and win a game and impress the fans. So for me this is a good place.”
A 90th-minute goal from Souleymane Doukara – his first for Leeds since late 2014 – wrapped up Saturday’s third-round win over Neil Redfearn’s Rotherham, atoning for a 1-0 defeat to the Millers in a league game at Elland Road in November.
The result set Leeds up for vital league games at Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday and Evans is working towards further signings after securing the loans of Carayol and Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt last week. Carayol is under contract at Championship leaders Middlesbrough until 2017 but he has not been involved at Boro since suffering a serious knee injury which ruled him out for 10 months in 2014.
Asked where his long-term future lay, Carayol said: “I’ve still got a year left there (at Middlesbrough) with an option so that’s where it stands.
“But I’m more worried about the short-term at the moment and my main goal is pleasing the Leeds fans and obviously pleasing the gaffer and the chairman. We’ll just wait and see what happens.”