RABBI MATONDO made several stops on his way to Rangers. Now he is sure to be on the right track at Ibrox.
A youth career with Cardiff City and Manchester City was the precursor to a multimillion-pound move to the Bundesliga with Schalke 04. Stints at Stoke City and Cercle Brugge followed.
Time spent at each club and country has helped shape Matondo as a player and a person and he is older and wiser for the experiences gained in his formative years.
“Going to a new team, it’s always going to be difficult at first,” Matondo said of his time in Germany three seasons ago. “But moving to another country at a young age, at 18, was important to me.
“I just felt like it was the right step at that time to go and explore that challenge and see where it takes me and see how I develop as a player and as a person.
“It helped me a lot. I’m grateful for this decision and grateful to Schalke for always giving me this opportunity to play my first professional games and score my first professional goals. It was good.
“I feel like it helps me now when I’ve played against top players and top teams. Coming to Rangers, where the expectations are high and we play against the best teams in Europe and sometimes the league.
“You have to be ready for every Rangers game, so I guess the Bundesliga has helped me in terms of the quality of opposition I’ve faced over the years. I think I’m on track to show what I have in me for Rangers here.”
Matondo put pen to paper on a four-year deal at Ibrox this summer and has had little time to adjust to life in Glasgow, both on and off the park, during a turbulent start to the campaign.
This installation process is variable for each player. It is the one to which the Welsh internationalist is now well accustomed.
“It’s been amazing,” Matondo said. “It’s been a great experience so far, it’s been so easy to settle in with the guys, the staff and everyone around the club. I’ve enjoyed it so far.
“In a way, it was quite easy because I’ve been used to it over the last two seasons. I was obviously on loan last season away from Schalke.
“I was loaned out twice in the space of six months, so I got used to meeting new teammates, being in a new environment and moving around. I guess it wasn’t that difficult.
“But then, of course, coming into a club like Rangers and meeting the staff and the players here, when you first walk into a place, it’s always a bit nerve-wracking and you think you have to settle in. But it’s been top notch and I’ve been grateful for the welcome I’ve had from everyone and the fans.”
The first weeks of the campaign allowed Matondo to show the Ibrox crowd why Van Bronckhorst was so keen to bring him to Ibrox and what he can add to the squad in a position that has been a problem at long term for the Rangers.
He aims for national silverware and European success. The 21-year-old also has aspirations on the world stage as he tries to earn his place in Qatar.
“It’s what you want as a footballer, what you aspire to grow up,” Matondo told RangersTV. “I can’t wait.
“That’s the goal and I want that challenge. I want to play for the best competitions available. I’m looking forward to whatever lies ahead of me.
“It would be huge [to be at the World Cup]. Like I said, when you’re younger, those are the competitions you want to compete in, especially for your country.
“Potentially being able to go to a World Cup with Wales will probably be one of the best things to happen in my career. I can’t wait to be there and I hope I will be there.”