Neeskens Kebano is determined to make an impression on new Fulham boss Marco Silva – and help the Whites bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

The French-born Congolese winger’s tough upbringing in the Parisian suburbs means he doesn’t get too down when thinking about the rather stop-start nature of his Fulham career – as he told the Sun in a wide-ranging interview ahead of our Championship opener.

“There’s a saying in the Bible which I don’t know the exact translation into English – but essentially it is, ‘You could be suffering today, smiling tomorrow then laughing the next day. Don’t be stuck in your mood, life goes on.’ You’ll have a good game, another good game, maybe a bad game. You can’t overthink things. Just do what you know and keep living your life.”

“I didn’t grow up on the Champs-Elysees. I grew up in a suburb of Paris where you don’t have the new Nike trainers, the new branded jeans. You have to do what you have to do. Most of our parents from this community made sacrifices themselves just to make sure their children were not in need.”

Kebano’s passion for helping those less fortunate remains and, together with friends, he donated to and then organised a relief effort to support the Congolese communities struggling to deal with the pandemic.

The government forbade everyone from going outside of their homes but in Congo that’s hard because the only way they earn their money is by selling bread, fish and water in the streets. If you’re asking them to stay indoors, how can they live, eat and drink? How do they feed their families? We decided to send out some rice, oil, face-masks, hand-sanitising gels, that sort of stuff – just to give people there some sort of help.”

He has also worked on an innovative project with his international team-mate and former Newcastle defender Chancel Mbema to pay medical fees for pregnant mothers. That comes as no surprise to anyone who has seen Kebano bouncing around Fulham’s training ground or featuring in the viral video content put together by the club’s media team. He clearly has a strong social conscience.

Sunday’s game against Middlesbrough will be particularly special for Kebano, who spent the second half of last season on loan at the Riverside having only been offered five first-team appearances by Scott Parker. The winger can’t speak highly enough of Boro boss Neil Warnock.

“I enjoyed my time at Boro because I was playing and an important player. It was one of the best dressing rooms. There was a good mix of older and younger players. Sometimes an experienced player doesn’t want a younger one to show their potential because that makes him a threat to his position in the team – but that wasn’t the case at Boro. like how Neil Warnock managed it – even players who weren’t playing were positive. I was playing cards and things. It was a good vibe.”

Kebano knows he will have to deliver in order to seal a place in Silva’s starting line-up.

“He’s demanding. That’s the main thing. Before talking about tactics and the work we do, he knows what he wants from each of us. We speak about fine margins that can give us the edge – even just to draw a game when we can’t win. They’ll make the difference and help if we go up again. I like the idea of yo-yoing back to the Premier League. Then we must stop!”