DOMINIQUE MALONGA graduated from the finest finishing school in world football - even if he is currently playing his football in Scotland's second grade.

The Hibernian striker, who has three goals in two games ahead of tomorrow night's visit to Ibrox on Championship duty, learned his trade under the watchful eye of the French Football Federation, and has watched Clarefontaine classmates such as Morgan Schneiderlin of Southampton and Newcastle's Moussa Sissoko hit the big time.

While both of those men graced the full French World Cup squad this summer, Malonga's hopes at international level now rest with Congo, the country of his parents' birth. The African nation - not to be confused with its near neighbour, the Democratic Republic of Congo - have already qualified for January's Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco, but for now the former Torino and Cesena player is happy to put his international future on hold to focus upon acclimatising to life at Easter Road.

"I was based at Clarefontaine and it was as good as everyone says it is," said Malonga, a former France youth international. "We had some good players. I played with Morgan Schneiderlin, Moussa Sissoko, Gabriel Obertan, who was at Manchester United and then Newcastle, and David N'gog, who was at Liverpool and is now back in France with Stade de Reims.

"Of course it was the dream to play for France," he added. "I don't know whether I will play for the Congo international team yet. But I do have the chance so I will think about it. My parents were born there, and so was my brother, but I was born in France - I've never even been to Africa. It would be a good opportunity but for now I just want to play here."

Malonga was attached to Monaco's youth team as a youngster, where he got a glimpse of life amongst the high rollers of Monte Carlo, and learned for a while under the gaze of Dado Prso, the former Rangers striker.

"I supported Monaco and I played there for three years," said Malonga. "Prso was at Monaco in the first-team when I was there playing for the young team and I know he played for Rangers. He was a good forward. Monte Carlo is beautiful and at Monaco we were very privileged because in the stadium we had a school and everything we needed. But they don't get many people going to their games. The money is good, but the fans are not as good. It is better to play here."

Stewart Fisher