Wales forward Rabbi Matondo has admitted that being dropped by the national team motivated him to improve and become even better so that it never happens again. The 21-year-old has enjoyed a fruitful spell on loan at Cercle Brugge, with 11 goal contributions in 25 appearances for the Belgian side.
With Borussia Dortmund signing Jadon Sancho and the young Englishman taking to German football like a duck to water, it saw many other Bundesliga clubs try to replicate their success. It saw Bayern Munich try to sign Callum Hudson-Odoi and Schalke signed Rabbi Matondo. But while the former move never materialized, the latter move hasn’t quite gone to plan. While Matondo scored on his debut, the forward would net one more goal for the German side.
That saw him leave on loan for Stoke City but once again, the youngster failed to thrive there which saw him dropped by Wales with that also partly because of him breaching COVID-19 protocols. But the 21-year-old has earned a call-up this time around and it saw Matondo admit that he was heart-broken to be dropped by Wales because he dreams of playing in the big tournaments for his nation. The forward also added that being dropped by Robert Page has motivated him to make sure that never happens again.
“When you are growing up playing football you always dream about the big tournaments, like the Euros and World Cup. Being around the Wales team for the last two seasons consistently and then missing out on the most important camp was heartbreaking,” Matondo told the Guardian.
“Did I do enough throughout the season to get a chance? Probably not, but it hurt at the time. When you’ve gone to previous camps and been there with the guys when we qualified for the Euros, missing out on the final step was a hard one to swallow. That gave me motivation and willpower to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again. This season I am pushing myself.”
The 21-year-old has suffered his fair share of injury crisis over the years but even despite that, the forward had plenty of interest when he was put up for loan last summer. However, Cercle Brugge took the leap and it has paid off with Matondo a key part of their squad now and the Welshman has admitted that he was amazed by the faith shown in by the club. He also added that he felt hurt and struggled for form after missing the Euros but was happy by the faith that Brugge showed in him.
“I was amazed by the faith showed in me by Cercle because other teams were maybe looking at me and thinking: ‘Ermmm … he’s injured and hasn’t had the best of seasons before that, so it might be a risk getting him.’ But the sporting director here was perfect with me. In getting me, he was a big factor, pushing me every step of the way to try to make this happen. In the end, it was the right move.
“Missing the Euros and being injured killed me a bit. That’s why I felt it was really important when Cercle approached, showing that faith to give me that motivation to go into the next season, that when I get my opportunity, I stay fit, I stay out of trouble, I’ll be firing for sure,” he added.