So much associated with Andrew Mitchell’s Irish League career appears clouded in contradiction - physically imposing but often dismissed as soft; a boyhood Glenavon supporter but criticised by sections of his own fanbase; a consistent goalscorer but selfless in service to the team.
However, at 25 years old, Mitchell wants this season to bring clarity to that career by cementing his spot as one of the game’s finest forwards.
“I’ve been working hard over the summer on my own and feel strong coming into the campaign, having missed nine or 10 games last season due to injury that disrupted my contribution,” said Mitchell. “I’m in my third season now at Glenavon but have been around the Irish League for a number of years and feel the next few years could be my best.
“I’m more of a senior player now and want that responsibility, I love it at Glenavon and feel I can become even better.
“I go out every week and give my best for the club and accept criticism is part of the game so I just take it and move on.
“Football can change so quickly and from one week to the next you can become the hero.
“I don’t count it as extra pressure playing for a club I love and every striker goes through good and bad times.
“But when I look back over my record, I think four out of the five campaigns I’ve finished around 20 goals and last season I got held back by injury.
“But, also, I realise you cannot live in the past or become comfortable based on previous achievements so you always analyse and look for ways to improve.
“I’ve heard people say things like I’m too soft in the past and don’t like that tag, off the pitch I’m different but on it I’m aggressive but it’s not just about throwing people around, you’ve got to be smart in how you go about your business.
“In my position as a striker you’ve got to play lots of different roles for the team, in terms of running the channels or holding up the ball but sometimes you also need to be a bit more selfish and get into the box.”
Mitchell’s return to Glenavon from Dungannon Swifts has coincided with a period of transition across the roster as players like Bobby Burns and Mark Sykes have left Mourneview Park for full-time football.
“We were very unlucky last season not to get European football for our club record points tally and, especially for a provincial outfit, our return has been strong but you want to always aim higher,” he said. “We started last season well but any club will suffer by losing such quality players, results were not good enough during a bad spell.
“But I think we came out of it the other side and pulled off some big results over the second half.
“You look at the investment in Glentoran and what Larne bring to the table, for example, and it all bodes well for an interesting campaign.”