Jack Rudoni said it is a dream come true to be a part of Wimbledon’s future, but the 18-year-old is determined to ensure that signing a new contract is just the start of an exciting new chapter in his career.
The midfielder, who has enjoyed a fantastic first year in the senior ranks after signing his first pro contract 13 months ago, is viewed by Glyn Hodges as a bright prospect who can help take Wimbledon forward at a new stadium back at Plough Lane.
Shortly after signing his new contract yesterday, Jack said: “To be given a new contract by the club means everything to me and hopefully I can reward everyone by putting in good performances on the pitch to move this club forward. I was already excited by the prospect of playing at Plough Lane, but visiting the site recently meant that I got a feel for it and I’m looking forward to it even more now. I can’t wait to play there. It’s unbelievable what they are doing and hopefully when it’s all built I will be out there playing and it can be my new home.
"I have been here during the rise up to League One and to play for the first-team now is a dream come true. To sign an extended contract now is even better. The manager helps me a lot. He comes and speaks to me, tells me what he wants from me, and I’ve just got to keep working hard to stay in the team. I have seen clips of the manager playing on You Tube and I'm also a left-footed, technical, player. I feel that it will really help me to have Glyn as manager.
“Nigel James (father of Chelsea player Reece and founder of Nigel James Coaching) is my biggest mentor, he’s always telling me how I can improve. I was speaking to Nigel and my Mum and I said ‘this is just the start’. I’m young, I want to keep on improving, and I want to get to the very top. Right now, this is the best thing for me to do, and hopefully I can help Wimbledon get to the top as well. I want to get out of League One with Wimbledon and help us get to the Championship.
“I think I need to improve upon my positioning by making better runs in the final third. I want to start getting goals and sometimes I think I drift over to where the ball is. I need to get into the box more because we have some good crossers of the ball, including Luke O’Neill and Nesta. I want to get on the end of their crosses. I want to score a few goals and help out Pigs up there.”
During his rise through the academy, ‘Rudi’ became known to our supporters for his precocious skills, most notably when he posted a clip on social media with the message ‘Neymar flick with a twist’. Due to the current lockdown, Jack has had plenty of time to practice skills in his garden in Cheam and he has a burning desire to keep improving his technique.
“Now that I’ve moved the garden is not as big now! I still get out there with my brother though and work on some skills. It’s always good to go out in the garden and get in some practice. You can always keep on improving your technique.
“Throughout my time at the academy a lot of different people have helped me to progress. It’s been good to come through the ranks, learning from different coaches and every little bit of advice has helped me to get this far.”
The midfielder also revealed in his latest interview with us that he is eligible to play for the USA at international level - his father James was born on the other side of The Atlantic.
“I want to play at the top as soon as possible and for as long as possible. I want to play for England, though I can also play for America. My Dad was born in America, but he moved here when he was very young. He has an American passport, so I could also play for the USA.”
Since bursting onto the scene at first-team level this season, one thing that Jack has had to become accustomed to is being noticed when he’s out and about, but he said that attention from supporters is something that he thrives upon!
“I was at a petrol station just before we stopped playing matches. I was in my kit after training and a woman came up to me and she said her son supported Wimbledon, so could she have a picture. That was nice. I love the interaction with the fans, they have been excellent for me with their support and while I’m on the pitch I can hear them. Off the pitch, I’ve had good messages from the fans on social media.”
Having joined us at the age of 11 after leaving Crystal Palace, Jack knows all about AFC Wimbledon’s story in rising from the ashes and he added that the club feels like home.
“As I’ve been at Wimbledon for so long I know all about the club’s unique story. Wimbledon has felt like home for all the time I’ve been here, since I joined at the age of 11. Everyone has been really good to me and it feels amazing to be playing for the first-team. It feels unbelievable to be playing out there. The manager has given me a chance to play in the first-team and has kept playing me, so I just want to repay that faith with good performances. Hopefully, I’ve done that so far and I can keep getting better to help out for the rest of this season, or next season.”
In case you missed our announcement video on Jack signing a new contract, you can watch it below.