Dundee striker Jason Cummings admits his reputation may have harmed his career so far – but believes he now has a manager who knows his professionalism and can reap the benefits.
The forward signed for the Dens Park side this week after failing to secure regular game time at Shrewsbury Town. The move brought to an end a spell in England that failed to deliver on the promise he showed as a prolific forward at Hibernian.
During his time at Easter Road, and after a transfer to Nottingham Forest and loan moves at Rangers, Peterborough and Luton, Cummings was known for colourful behaviour, jokes and entertaining interviews.
While vowing not to change his personality, he said that it may have cost him professionally with some not realising he takes his football seriously.
He said: “A lot of people, managers, people who see daft interviews or stupid stories don’t know what I’m like every day.
“I come in every day and work my b***s off.
“There’s a time and place. Aye, I like a joke and a bit of banter, messing about with the boys in the changing room but come training and games I’m fully focused. The gaffer knows that about me.”
Cummings believes that while there’s an appetite from fans for more fun from players, the modern game rewards those who avoid any controversy or colour.
He said: “A lot of players are robotic. ‘Good to get the three points. The fans were brilliant.’
“It’s boring but that’s kind of the way that you need to be these days.
“When you go the other way, the way I go sometimes and speak like you would to your mates, everyone just batters you.
“We’re wanting the characters in the game, the Gazzas, George Bests, but as soon as one comes along then the minute they have a bad game it’s ‘Oh, he messes about too much’.
“If I’m honest then it’s actually hindered me getting moves. I feel like being yourself sometimes hinders that.
“Managers on the outside will be like ‘the boy Cummings is a bit of a daftie’. The gaffer here knows what I’m like and he knows that I do take my job seriously.”
The move to Dens pairs Cummings with former Hibs teammate, and now Dundee boss James McPake, and the striker believes that connection will make it easy for him to settle. Despite a lack of game time recently, Cummings says he has done extra work to remain in shape and can reward McPake’s faith with goals in the Championship.
After a difficult spell, he thinks a return to Scottish football will be just what he needs.
“I am buzzing,” he said. “I wasn’t playing much down there, I was missing home and so I wanted to get back up the road and get back to playing football.
“Looking back, the most enjoyable time of my career was probably Hibs, living in Edinburgh near my mates and all my family, scoring goals every week.
“I actually thought ‘I miss Scottish football’ and I wanted to come back up here. There were a few clubs interested, not many if I’m honest, but the gaffer here I had played with at Hibs so it made sense.
“He knew what I was like. He knows that I’ll score goals for him and he knows my personality as well.
“When I found out I was buzzing straight away, couldn’t wait to drive up.”