BABY STEPS: JOE DODOO’S JOURNEY TO THE TOP BEGINS NOW

The young man has received the attention — and the shirt — of one of the world’s biggest clubs, and it could be the start of many good things

By: Sammie Frimpong

It could ultimately prove the most rewarding move for a Ghanaian footballer this summer even if, at the outset, it looks like Ghana-born, England-based starlet Joseph Dodoo is only just taking baby steps as he moves to Scottish Premier League re-entrants Rangers.

Indeed, there is plenty of reason not to be too optimistic about Dodoo’s union with the Gers. He’s only 21, with a meagre 275 minutes of top-level football prior to his transfer from Leicester City, much of it coming in England’s League Cup. But it’s because he took those rare opportunities so well, bagging a memorable hat-trick versus lower-league Bury — a club he’d later be loaned to for a month near the end of 2015 — on his senior debut for the Foxes, that belief runs high among observers over Dodoo’s chances of success at the highest level. Among those admirers is Claudio Ranieri, the bespectacled genius who masterminded Leicester’s stunning run to Premier League glory last season and who almost immediately rewarded Dodoo’s cup heroics with a 19-minute top-flight cameo against Bournemouth, with the Italian describing the winger as no mere lad but ‘a man’.

“When he played with me he scored goals and moved very well in training sessions,” the former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss added. “His life has changed now – I hope he succeeds and I wish him all the best.”

And Ranieri isn’t alone in expressing optimism about Dodoo’s future away from the King Power Stadium; Leicester captain Wes Morgan was just as generous with his own compliments, saying: “[Dodoo’s] a player with a lot of ability. He’s a big strong boy and on his day he can cause problems. I’ll be watching with much interest to see how well he does.”

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Those — and more — are attributes which Dodoo’s new employers would quickly find abundant in the young man who, somewhat to his credit, departed English champions Leicester on his own terms. Rangers are no ordinary freshly promoted side, make no mistake; they are, by some distance, Scotland’s most successful club, though forced to spend the last few years in lower divisions after being sunk to the knees by financial troubles. The £200,000 Rangers parted with in securing the Dodoo deal might seem cheap now — especially at a time when ludicrously monstrous prices are being quoted for some of the game’s bigger names — but it could ultimately prove a bargain. That a club of such might appreciates the talent Dodoo is enough to recruit him in re-establishing itself at football’s high table, and doing so even a full week after he actually began training with Mark Warburton’s team, is a true endorsement of the Kumasi native’s quality.

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The feeling of endearment, though, appears mutual, if Dodoo’s own revelation to Rangers’ website is anything to go by.

“Did I have other options? Yeah, of course, but sometimes it’s about making a decision based on what is best for me and I felt the manager here is the best one to nurture me and make me the player I want to be,” he said.

And it’s a decision that’s already started to pay off well for both player and club, with Dodoo opening his scoring account for the Glasgow-based outfit when thrown in for the last half-hour of Rangers’ recent Scottish League Cup fixture at East Stirlingshire, netting from close-range to wrap up a 3-0 win.

As he keeps his head down and form up, the regular accumulation of appearances will steadily see his stock soar. In a sport where elite clubs are increasingly swooning over young talent, almost always convinced they’ve found the next big thing, Europe’s brighter lights should come calling soon at Dodoo’s door — oh, and that maiden Ghana cap (and hopefully several more afterwards) as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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