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The best season of Peterborough United striker Ivan Toney’s career arrived despite off-field tragedies that affected him deeply.
Toney lost two supportive grandparents and a close friend in recent times, but he used their memories to propel him towards a 22-goal season in his first year as a Posh player.
The £600,000 capture from Newcastle United last summer was delighted with that return and he reckons he and the team can do better next season.
“Last season was tough for me in many ways,” Toney stated. “I lost my nan and granddad in quick succession.
“They were massive supporters of mine. They used to come to every game so it was hard to lose them both.
“But I know they were looking down on me and urging me to score goals and I dedicate my season to them.
“I also lost a very close friend which also hit me hard, but again I wanted to keep scoring to honour him.
“I had a T shirt made with his picture on it and I wore it at Portsmouth at a time when I was in a bit of a goal drought. I was so pleased to score in that match in front of 20,000 supporters so I could show off the T shirt and remember him.
“I feel blessed in so many ways. My whole family is crazily supportive. My mum, my dad, my two little brothers and my sister come to every game, even if I’m not playing.
“They drove all the way to Plymouth even though they knew I was a substitute.
“They were all a big part of the best season of my career.
“I’ve been on loan at a lot of clubs so it was great to feel so settled for a whole season.
“It’s the best dressing room I’ve ever known as well. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to where we wanted to be.
“We should have been good enough to get into the play-offs or even to win automatic promotion, but I’m confident we will do better next season.
“I wanted 30 goals, but I’ll settle for what I did get. It’s a good number and hopefully I’ll score enough next season to help the club get into the Championship.”
Toney’s 50-yard free-kick in the FA Cup replay at Bradford City in December was voted goal-of-the-season by Posh fans. Football stats site Soccerbase shows Toney as scoring 23 goals last season, but they’ve credited him with the own goal from Burton’s John Brayford in the final game!