ARTHUR OKONKWO identified two key games that were significant in Wrexham’s promotion-winning campaign.

Phil Parkinson’s men enjoyed a strong run-in and clinched a top-three finish in League Two with two games to go after thrashing Forest Green Rovers 6-0 at The Racecourse.

Some vital wins put the Reds on course for automatic promotion and Okonkwo feels securing victory in the double-header against Notts County was crucial.

Wrexham pipped County to the National League title following a record-breaking 2022-23 campaign, although the Magpies joined the Reds in the fourth tier after coming through the play-offs.

But there was no revenge when the teams met this season as Wrexham triumphed 2-0 at Meadow Lane on October 28 after scoring two goals in three minutes during the second half through Elliot Lee and Ollie Palmer.

Bragging rights were Wrexham’s again in the return fixture at The Racecourse on February 17 when Steven Fletcher’s goal earned a 1-0 success.

Okonkwo, brought in on a season-long loan from Premier League giants Arsenal, enjoyed being on the winning team in those pivotal matches.

“For me, the two stand-out games were both games against Notts County,” said the goalkeeper.

“They were both important games.

“When we played them first away from home, the boys let me know pretty quickly that they were our rivals.

“Even though I didn’t really know the rivalry at the time, it was good to be part of it and be able to win both games.”

Okonkwo arrived at The Racecourse as a replacement for former England international Ben Foster who announced his retirement in August.

The 22-year-old has been in fantastic form and kept 16 clean sheets in all competitions.

That led to personal recognition as Okonkwo was named in the League Two Team of the Season alongside Wrexham team-mate Elliot Lee.

And the keeper was in London for the EFL awards where he was accompanied by Reds’ executive director, Humphrey Ker.

Even a broken jaw sustained in the 2-2 draw at Harrogate Town on November 28, which kept him out of action for three matches, failed to take the shine off a fantastic campaign for the shot-stopper who was eager to challenge for honours during his time with Wrexham.

“It has been an incredible season,” said Okonkwo, who began the 2022-23 season on loan at League Two rivals Crewe Alexandra before ending the campaign with Sturm Graz where he won the Austrian Cup.

“There have been highs and lows but it has been a successful season.

“Getting promoted to League One means a lot to me because I was in League Two last season with Crewe and we didn’t do too well.

“We started quite well and then we dropped off.

“That was a real motivation for me to come back and try and do well in this league with Wrexham.

“That was something I wanted to achieve this season, be around the top and have that experience.”

Parent club Arsenal have been keeping tabs on Okonkwo, who made 36 league appearances during his time in north Wales.

“Arsenal have been monitoring me,” he added. “The assistant goalkeeper coach has been in regular contact and they messaged me after we were promoted.

“It is all good at the moment and I am really happy about that.”

England and Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale was one of the first to congratulate Okonkwo on gaining promotion but will the 22-year-old be back at The Racecourse next season?

Former England international Carlton Palmer certainly thinks so.

“He’s had a fantastic season, he’s still only 22 and he has been exceptional,” Palmer told Football League World.

“Wrexham is an exciting project, they’re on the up and Okonkwo is getting regular game-time.

“He’s been very good, very consistent and looks to have a bright future ahead of him. With the owners of Wrexham having deep pockets and plenty of ambition, I think they have every chance to sign him permanently.

“Of course, there will be other EFL clubs interested in him, but if you’re a player at Wrexham it must be an exciting time as they see how far they can go.”