A plan, a pal and a PlayStation - why Rodney Kongolo is loving his time at Doncaster Rovers
Off the pitch, Rodney Kongolo is content with the simple life.
On it, he’s absolutely delighted to be remaining with Doncaster Rovers until the end of the season.
The 19-year-old midfielder, on loan from Premier League leaders Manchester City and this season making his foray into senior football, smiled and laughed his way through his pre-match press duties yesterday.
Miles away, literally, from his native country and, metaphorically, from the plush facilities on offer at City, playing in a league he probably knew little about for a team he probably knew even less about, the laid back Dutchman could be forgiven for feeling just a little homesick or finding the move difficult.
Not a chance. He’s loving it at Rovers - and his PlayStation is keeping him occupied in between matches!
“I’m delighted to be staying here. That was always the plan,” said Kongolo.
“It’s better to spend a whole season with the team because you get to know each other better.
“I’m learning a lot. Learning to play in this league has been good, I’m enjoying it.
“It’s very different, the fans and the players. It’s important for me to get used to playing under pressure,
“The biggest challenge has been understanding the game, understanding the league and what you need to win games. It’s much harder physically and technically, and you need to understand everything quicker.
“There’s much more to come from me,” he added. “Scoring more goals is something I need to do.”
After speaking to the media, Kongolo was off to meet his older brother Terence who this week joined Huddersfield Town on loan from AS Monaco.
Having family nearby might just help the teenager become more comfortable in his surroundings - although he says settling in Doncaster has not been a problem.
“Everyone has been really nice and I’ve been staying with my friend Issam Ben Khemis,” said Kongolo.
“We speak the same language [French] so I’ve been helping him and he’s been helping me.
“We go out and eat something and it’s good to have a friend like that.
“You’re in a different place in Doncaster so you don’t really know people around.
“I’m not really a person to do lots of things outside, I like chilling at home playing PlayStation, I don’t really do much!”
Following Ben Whiteman’s unexpected return to Sheffield United, boss Darren Ferguson could hand Kongolo an opportunity to stake his claim for a more regular starting spot in tomorrow’s FA Cup third round tie at home to Rochdale.
Kongolo has shown glimpses of his obvious potential in his 28 appearances thus far, adding energy and mobility to Rovers’ midfield.
“He’s done well both starting games and coming off the bench, and City have been delighted with how we’ve managed him because it is his first loan,” said Ferguson.
“I think you can see what he gives us and I thought he did it exceptionally well when he came off the bench on Monday, the game was suited to him.
“When it’s your first loan I don’t think people realise it can be very difficult.
“It’s a totally different game [to youth football] and he’s had to play in different formations.
“But he’s really enjoyed it and he’s definitely improved. He’s learned tactically and the way of playing at this level.
“At the end of it it’ll be a really good season for him and his development. For us I think he’s played a big part and a positive part in what we’re trying to do.”