Rabbi Matondo: Keep our feet on the ground
Rabbi Matondo enjoyed the perfect week with club and country. First, the Wales international celebrated UEFA EURO 2020 qualification thanks to a 2-0 win against Hungary, before victory in Bremen gave a boost to FC Schalke 04's own European aspirations.
“It was crazy, as you can imagine,” Matondo tell schalke04.de, looking back on Wales’ triumphant international break. “We worked so hard in preparation for these qualifiers. We’ve made the nation proud and we’re really happy – now we’re looking forward to EURO 2020.”
Matondo was an unused substitute against Hungary, but made an appearance off the bench against Azerbaijan in Baku and admits it’s an “honour” to play alongside and learn from “world-class players” Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale.
There’s a lot to learn from Bale and Ramsey.
“They’ve played at a high level for a long time, they have a lot of experience,” says Matondo. “Bale has played in Champions League finals; Ramsey has played in the Premier League and is now back in the Champions League with Juventus – there is a lot to learn from them.”
With qualification secured, Matondo is hoping for more game time with the two Welsh stars so he can continue that learning process ahead of next summer’s tournament. “Hopefully I can play with them more often now and we can do well at EURO 2020.”
One game at a time
For now, however, Matondo’s focus is firmly on Schalke. The Royal Blues returned to winning ways and continued their impressive away form with a narrow win at Werder on Saturday. “Coming to Bremen was always going to be tough,” he reflects. “But we started the game well, defended when we needed to, especially in the second half, and got the result we deserved.”
The win takes Schalke within three points of table toppers Borussia Mönchengladbach and level on points with fourth-placed Freiburg. But Matondo isn’t thinking about another European adventure just yet. “It’s always nice to be high up in the table, but we shouldn’t get overexcited,” he warns. “We have to listen to our coach, keep working hard, keep our feet on the ground and keep going every game; hopefully then we will end up high in the table.”
The next three points are up for grabs on Friday evening (25.11, 20:30 CET) when the David Wagner’s men welcome Bundesliga newcomers Union Berlin to the VELTINS-Arena.