DAPO Mebude will, he hopes, make a career out of taking opportunities, of being in the right place at the right time. He has already grabbed his first chance in football.

The final destination on the road that Mebude is currently working his way along is, like everyone in the Rangers Academy, set for Ibrox. But each player has a different starting point and Mebude’s journey began when he least expected it.

His talent wasn’t spotted on a local park or playing for his Boys’ Club. Instead, it was a stroke of luck that his potential was noticed when he joined scores of other kids at one of the successful community programmes that Rangers run.

“Me and my family moved up from London when I was young and there was a Soccer School event on that I went to,” Mebude said. “From there, I got the invite to come to the Training Centre for a few sessions with the Academy boys and it kind of took off from there.

“I am sure it was an Easter camp and then I came in to train with the Academy. The coaches must have liked me and I came into the club.

“At that age, it was all about having fun and I just enjoyed playing football. I went to the camp and saw it as a chance to play and have fun and I ended up getting a move to Rangers.

“Since then, I have been working hard every day to improve myself and to make the most of the chance that I was given.

“Since I was a kid, all I have known is football and all I have wanted to do is be a footballer. I have always played and had that ambition. I didn’t know how it would happen, I didn’t have it in my mind that this was how I was going to come through. But it has worked out for me and I am very grateful for that. Every day, I need to do all I can to grab that chance.”

From the moment that Mebude’s promise and potential were picked up, he has been determined to make the most of his opening, to repay the faith that was shown in him.

Steven Gerrard handed the striker his first team debut against Kilmarnock last season and he regularly trains with the Light Blues squad.

Speaking earlier in the campaign, Gerrard had praised Mebude, saying he has a ‘huge future’ and ‘big potential’. Now the 18-year-old is out to prove his worth in the long run.

“When the manager said that, it was great and it is something that I will always remember,” Mebude said. “For him to say that, it meant a lot to me and it gives me a lot of confidence.

“It makes me want to work even harder to make sure that I reach where I want to reach in the game. Every day, I am pushing to get better and to make that impact.

“I am trying to keep doing what I am doing at the moment and if I am in with the Reserves I need to keep pushing to show that I can be round with the first team again. Hopefully if I get another chance I can make a big impact and remain there this season.

“It has been good for me and when I pictured it, it has gone that way. I came back for pre-season and went with the first team and now I need to score a lot of goals, try and improve every game and get fitter and stronger every day.”

The debut against Kilmarnock was another step in the right direction for Mebude as he looks to make his mark and establish himself at Ibrox.

Unfortunately for him, the players that stand in his way – Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defoe – are two of the most important that Gerrard has in his ranks. But the Gers kid will look and learn from his more established forward peers and reap the rewards from the time spent with them on and off the park.

Mebude said: “They are two top class strikers and Jermain has done everything I would want to do.

“He has scored goals and played in the Premier League and done it all. Alfredo is showing what he can do and they are both class strikers that I can learn from.

“To get in ahead of them will be a tough ask but I will keep working hard and hopefully I will be ready when I get my chance and I can set off on my own career.

“Alfredo is a great guy, he is really funny and he is good with me. Jermain is great to work with, he helps me every day and he does a lot for me in terms of analysis or working after a training session. I can learn so much from him and the feedback he gives me is very helpful for me.

“He is still playing at such a high level at his age, he is still so sharp and so fit and he offers so much. If you have a career like him, you would be more than happy with yourself when you look at the games he has played and the goals he has scored.

“I watch him every day and pay a lot of attention to him. That kind of experience can only help me.”

*Rangers Academy forward Dapo Mebude is pictured promoting a new Rangers Lotto Campaign for the Rangers Youth Development Company.

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