Kyle Vassell: Life as captain

Kyle Vassell reckons becoming club captain has helped him relax on the pitch, rather than add pressure on him.

The Kilmarnock skipper was handed the armband at the start of the season, and he has flourished throughout the campaign.

He has struck up a dream partnership with Marley Watkins, with both of them scoring double figures this season.

Killie manager Derek McInnes urged Vassell not to change who he was after getting the armband, insisting there was a reason he was trusted as the new skipper.

Vassell says he’s tried as best as he can to make sure that’s the case.

He said: “I still take things on board that maybe I don’t need to, but I feel I do need to because I am captain of the team.

“However it has made me just relax. I can be relaxed on the pitch a bit more and, having done that, I am playing good football again, so I always sing his praises.

“I say how brilliant he is with me and, genuinely, he has been. He has made me such a better player. Coached me how I need to be coached.

“He knows what he needs to do with me. Sometimes he doesn’t speak to me, he knows I need to do it myself and sometimes he puts his arm around me.

“He manages me really well and I could not speak higher of the gaffer.”

Vassell continued: “He was a captain as well and he knows it is important to do both.

“You can’t always need a player to need you. I can’t always need him to be good.

“Sometimes it has to come from me and also I need to lead the boys as well.

“I am motivated and I have got fire burning. It’s a proper ambition of mine to play European football.

“I said that about coming and signing a long contract. It’s a huge ambition of mine and we are nearly there now. So I am using that to drive me.”

Vassell admits Ayrshire now feels like home after moving around a lot during his career.

He said: “My son was born here. We love it here, we love our little estate, we love all our neighbours and really enjoy it.

“When the sun is out, there’s nowhere better to be.

“Then it’s a pleasure coming in and I love my job because, from Monday to Saturday, I am literally with my mates.

“We have such a good group. Boys spend time together outside of football every single day. We have such a tight group and that is literally why we are where we are.

“I can’t speak more of how important it is to have a good dressing room and ours is the best I have ever been in.”

He admits he sees himself staying at Rugby Park for a while after becoming a huge part of the club: I love playing football here. I like being captain. When he first asked me, I was a bit unsure.

“I’ve had my moments this season where I have thought: Oh God, this is a really tough job. But I am growing into it .

“I’d love to see this season out on a high and go into next season having a season of being a skipper under my belt and keep getting better, excel next season and see what we can do.

“But it’s not get too far ahead. A couple more games, secure European football, finish as high as we can in the league. That’s obviously fourth. That’s our ambition now and we just try and secure that.”