How the Hignett factor tempted Scouser Toto to leave Grimsby for Pools

Toto Nsiala settles in at Victoria Park. Picture by Frank Reid
Toto Nsiala settles in at Victoria Park. Picture by Frank Reid
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New signing Toto Nsiala admitted he knows little about Hartlepool United – yet.

But the towering central defender says he knows he has made the right move and it is all down to the Craig Hignett factor.

Nsiala joined Pools yesterday on a free transfer from Grimsby Town – even though he has just won promotion to League Two with the Mariners.

The Democratic Republic of Congo international says, at the age of 24, he needed a “new chapter” to his story and believes Hignett will help get him a happy ending.

Nsiala was a youngster with Everton before going on his travels to Macclesfield, Accrington, Vietnam, Southport and, most recently, Grimsby.

He was outstanding at the back in the National League side, helping them reach Wembley last season, not once, but twice.

“I wanted a new chapter, somewhere fresh to start,” said the 6ft 4in centre-half.

“Having met the manager, this seemed like the right move for me.

“He told me about his plans for the club and I liked his ambition.

“I wanted to be a part of it.

“It wasn’t easy, not just from the emotional Grimsby side, [manager] Paul Hurst said he really wanted me to stay, but there were other clubs interested.

“No disrespect to Hartlepool, but there were bigger clubs I could have gone to.

“But this move was not about bigger clubs or contracts, it was about me wanting to progress as a player.

“I want to get better and I will learn new things from Craig and that’s no disrespect to the men who have managed me, who’ve been brilliant.

“Craig can teach me and progress me as a player, that’s really why I have come here.”

Nsiala is a proud Scouser, having moved to Merseyside with his family as a child.

But he says being an adopted son of Liverpool was not a factor in the transfer , though it helped break the ice in his first meeting with his new manager.

“I don’t know much about Hartlepool yet, but the manager here won me over and being a Scouser always helps!” he laughed.

“I literally live 10 minutes away from where the gaffer is from [Huyton].

“I never knew he was a Scouser until we met and we had a bit of banter about it.”

He also knows Pools skipper Billy Paynter – another Liverpool man.

“You can’t have too many Scousers,” joked the new signing.