Thursday 24 October 2019

Manchester City teenager Rabbi Matondo called up for Wales

The 18-year-old forward is one of the Premier League champions’ fastest players.

Exciting Manchester City youngster Rabbi Matondo has been called into the Wales senior squad (Martin Rickett/PA)
Exciting Manchester City youngster Rabbi Matondo has been called into the Wales senior squad (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Phil Blanche, Press Association Sport

Wales have called up exciting Manchester City teenager Rabbi Matondo for their friendly in Albania.

Matondo has won six caps at under-21 level, but this is the first time the forward has been part of the senior squad.

The 18-year-old began his career at hometown club Cardiff before joining the Premier League champions in 2016.

Matondo has been a regular goalscorer for City’s Under-23 side this season, and lays claim to being even faster than first-team stars such as Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker.

“We did fitness tests and obviously we had to do 20-metre sprints and other things as well,” Matondo said in an October interview with WalesOnline.

“It turned out my time was the fastest in the academy, and it later came out that it was the fastest in the whole club.

“I’m not too sure about that personally, but that’s what they said, and as you know there’s some really fast players at Manchester City.”

Liverpool-born Matondo is qualified to represent England and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where his father Dada is from and where he played football for several clubs.

Although playing in Albania will not commit Matondo to Wales as it is not a competitive fixture, he has said that he sees his international future with Ryan Giggs’ side.

“I’m really happy and honoured to say that I’m Welsh,” said Matondo, a former pupil of Llanishen High School in Cardiff.

“I’m so happy to see the other youngsters doing so well at the moment.

“It motivates me too because I remember myself playing with these players during the younger age groups in the Wales set-up, and now they’ve gone on to do so well and all fully deserve their first-team call-ups.

“I’m really happy and obviously it inspires me to push to their level and get into the Wales first team.”

Wales have lost defenders James Chester and Paul Dummett for Tuesday’s friendly in Elbasan.

The pair were forced to come off during the 2-1 Nations League defeat to Denmark on Friday with injuries.

But boss Giggs suggested – after the Denmark game – that Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey would both make the trip to Albania.

Giggs also confirmed that Chris Gunter would start the game and become the most-capped player in Welsh football history.

Reading defender Gunter will win his 93rd cap on Tuesday, eclipsing the long-standing record of former goalkeeper Neville Southall.

But Ethan Ampadu will not travel to Albania.

Wales announced on Twitter on Sunday evening that the 18-year-old would miss the match and return to his club Chelsea.

PA Media

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