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From Epsom Eagles to League One with Wimbledon

Eighteen-year-old midfielder takes step-up in his stride

11 February 2020

Jack Rudoni claimed a first assist in League One football on Saturday and he said that his rate of progress has taken him by surprise.

The 18-year-old, who played football locally at Epsom Eagles as a young boy, joined Wimbledon at the age of 11 after leaving Crystal Palace, and this season has been a breakthrough one for Jack as he’s made nine first-team appearances so far.

Speaking ahead of the match against Ipswich tonight, Jack said: “I think I’ve adapted quicker than even I thought I would. From my debut and the first few games, I felt that I adapted really well. Now I feel more comfortable and on Saturday I was out there, just expressing myself, and trying to help the team.  

“It was a really good feeling to get a first assist. It’s what I want to do. Being a midfielder, I want to provide for the team and help the team to get results. I want to help us to get goals by creating chances. Rod played the ball a bit behind me. I tried to get it under control and I could hear Callum calling for it! He wanted a little lay-off, but I thought I would keep it to myself and try to work an opportunity to cross it. I knew someone would be at the back post to nod it in.

“It should be a good game (tonight). Ipswich are doing pretty well, but there’s ability in our squad and if we perform like we did at the weekend we can definitely get a result. It’s just the fine margins that we need to work on to make sure that we get the three points.”

As well as being guided on his way to the first-team by academy coaches here, Jack has been mentored by Nigel James, father of Chelsea player Reece, at his Elite Coaching school and the midfielder has always prided himself on his technical ability. A social media clip of Jack demonstrating his skills was posted as ‘The Neymar Challenge with a twist’. It was watched by thousands and Jack still hones his skills in his garden at home.

“I still go into the garden and work on my technical stuff when I can. Especially during the off season, I will go out there and just keep the ball up and practice my technical work to stay sharp.

“Especially from a young age, I would say that you should work more on the technical aspects: your touch, quick feet, and sharp turns. Once you get older, you can then work on your physical side. When you are younger, I think it helps to get better technically for the future. Once you physically develop, you are already ahead of other people technically.

“It feels amazing to be playing in the first-team. Playing football from so young and coming through the ranks – this is my eighth year here – and playing for the first-team now, is a dream come true.

“The club means a lot to me, as I’ve been brought through here. The coaches gave me a platform to work on, giving me confidence, and helping me throughout. Over this journey, hopefully we’ve made a half decent player! When they see me around the training ground, they come and say ‘well done’ and I appreciate it because I’ve known them a long time.

“Nigel is proud of me and he tells me when I do well, but he’s always wanting me to do that even more so that I can be the best player possible. That’s what helps me, to keep pushing, and he’s a really good mentor. He tells me what I can improve upon to do better and I think that’s really key for me.”

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