Jobi McAnuff believes that Port Vale playoff hero Mal Benning is a pioneer for British South Asians. His Wembley debut was one to remember as he scored the third goal in their win over Mansfield to reach League One. Fellow Punjabi, Danny Batth put on a flawless performance last week to help Sunderland gain promotion back to the Championship after more than half a decade. Manning believes he can inspire the next generation of talent from the community.
“We talk about representation a lot, and certainly, it’s a portion of society that we don’t see represented nearly enough in the game,” Jobi McAnuff said about Mal Benning after the playoff final. “He has certainly been a pioneer and someone who has been flying the flag for many, many years. It’s really great to see him get his day, and against his former club – it always seems to be the way – he pops up with the goal. He was fantastic, both full-backs were key to the game, but big, big credit to him. He had to be ready. He hasn’t been playing a lot recently and he’s come back into the team, and he’s taken his opportunity – it’s a big, big credit to Mal Benning.”
“The main thing is we got the win. I’m happy to get the third goal and kill the game off. I saw it go into the back of the net and I just thought ‘I’ve scored at Wembley’,” Benning said. “I came on Sky Sports News earlier in the week talking about [South] Asians in football and that [today] was a massive step. I don’t care that it’s me, it could have been anyone, but for the Sikh community as well as South Asians in football, that was a massive step.”