‘I don’t let the nerves get to me’ – Colchester United debutant Ryan Gondoh
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
It was like a breath of fresh air when Ryan Gondoh was unleashed to make his Football League debut as a 68th minute substitute during Colchester United’s goalless draw with Swindon Town on Saturday.
An attack-minded Gondoh, who was plying his trade down in the Bostik North (eighth tier of English football) before the turn of the year, caught the eye with a terrific cameo appearance.
The 20-year-old’s dazzling runs were arguably the main talking point of the U’s last home match of the campaign – the season ends with a long trip to Exeter City this weekend.
Certainly, a super-confident Gondoh did not look over-awed, or plagued by nerves, as he played with freedom and positivity in his first outing at League level.
“I felt comfortable, I was not nervous. I don’t let the pressure or the nerves get to me,” confirmed Gondoh.
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“I just went out there and made sure that I was being me. I am here for a reason, so I just like to go out there with a smile on my face and play football.
“I really enjoyed it, although to be fair I didn’t think that I was going to get on!
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“But I got on and felt positive. The manager (John McGreal) just said to get on the pitch and enjoy it.
“The main thing was to enjoy it, and that’s what I did. I got on the ball and tried to make things happen. I was positive, so I am grateful to be given the chance to make my debut today.”
U’s home supporters were certainly taken by Gondoh’s attacking forays down the right flank, and through the middle, perhaps giving a glimpse of what is to come next season, and beyond.
Gondoh continued: “That is my style of play – I like to get forward and to just try and create things.
“I like to say that I am a creative and a risky player, and just try to enjoy football, but I do the simple things first and the positive things afterwards.
“It was a special feeling, after having played in the under-23s this season, coming into the first-team environment with all the fans and the atmosphere. It felt great.
“It was a big step up, but that’s what I have been working towards. Hopefully, this can be a stepping stone for me, so that I can go on and play even higher.”
Sutton-born Gondoh, who turns 21 in June, had two seasons on the books of Barnet, between 2014 and 2016, before dropping into non-league.
In his first season with the Bees, he helped the under-18s to win the Football League Youth Alliance South-East Conference title, before making his one and only senior appearance the following year, as a substitute in a 1-0 defeat to Yeovil in a Football League Trophy tie on September 1, 2015.
Gondoh dropped into non-league when he was released by Barnet in the summer of 2016, playing for the likes of Metropolitan Police, Kingstonian and Carshalton Athletic in the Bostik (Isthmian) League, before signing for Maldon & Tiptree last summer.
He starred for the Jammers, alongside Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, scoring 12 goals in 29 appearances for the Bostik North outfit before getting his big chance with the U’s.
Both Gondoh and striker Ogedi-Uzokwe signed 18-month contracts with the U’s, on the same day (January 3), and both came on at the same time in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Swindon. It was actually 24-year-old Ogedi-Uzokwe’s eighth league appearance for the U’s.
“It helps playing with Junior (Ogedi-Uzokwe). We know how each other likes to play,” explained Gondoh.
“We know each other’s style of play and we like to link up. Hopefully next week we can get on the pitch together and link up and play some good football.
“It would be nice to get another chance at Exeter, to get me ready for pre-season and to come through strongly.
“But to come here and make my debut in League Two is a good feeling. It was my first ever league game, and it was just a shame that we couldn’t get the win.
“I tried to put in a few balls, but hopefully next week I can make a difference, if I am involved.”
Gondoh began his footballing career as a left winger and a left-back, but he is more likely to operate on the right wing these days.
He explained: “I prefer playing wide on the right, because I am left-footed and sometimes I like to cut inside, go down the line and keep the defender guessing. That’s the main thing about me.
“I also like to take free-kicks. I’ve got a good left foot, so I get balls into the box for people to get on the end of it.”
The U’s, 12th in the table, visit Exeter on the final weekend.