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Spain: from stadium goalkeeper to La Liga, the crazy story of Randy Nteka

“A waking dream”: at the end of a career worthy of adventure novels, the French striker Randy Nteka shines at Rayo Vallecano, surprise team of the season in La Liga, which faces Atlético Madrid, champion of Spain in title, Sunday (4:15 p.m.) for the 19th day.

Very close to giving up football at the age of 19, Randy Nteka left his Parisian suburbs to emigrate reluctantly to Madrid, where he chained the galleys, even accepting a position as a stadium goalkeeper in a regional level club. From now on, he explodes at Rayo Vallecano (4th in La Liga), under the aegis of Radamel Falcao.

It all started in 2016, when an agent approached the young player who was then playing in U19 DSR in Linas-Montlhéry, in the Paris suburbs.

“When the agent contacts me, me, I’m not too hot. Frankly, football, I didn’t think too much about it anymore. I was already looking for small jobs to start working life. But my father, he, hadn’t moved on. As soon as there was a tiny chance, he wanted me to try. So when the agent approached me, he made it clear to me that, basically, it’s now or never,” Randy Nteka told AFP.

– “In the nerve” – ​​But when he arrives in Madrid, it’s a cold shower. “The agent didn’t really have any contacts… He was knocking on doors, on the nerve… I fell from very high. I imagined myself arriving, doing my test week, and if it was conclusive, launch my career … But no, not at all”, confides the player with large size (1.89 m, 80 kg).

Nteka is trying his luck with Rayo, who appreciate his profile but no longer have room to sign him. The club from the working-class suburbs of Madrid redirected him to Betis San Isidro, a regional division club, while telling him that they will continue to supervise him there.

“I came for one or two weeks. In the end, I stayed six months on trial,” summarizes Nteka. “The Rayo was the only thing that held me back. I said to myself + maybe tomorrow they will call me +”.

Guided by the models of French successes abroad (Griezmann, Kanté, Pogba …) set up as examples by his father, Randy Nteka takes his troubles patiently. But he lives without resources. To help him, the Betis San Isidro club finds him a job as a stadium keeper.

The following summer, in 2017, Randy Nteka spent the entire preseason with Rayo. But the club cast doubt on a possible contract and the player then decided to try the adventure with a reservist contract in Spanish D3, in Fuenlabrada, in the Madrid suburbs.

“I didn’t even know the club,” Nteka (24) smiles today. “When they told me they were interested in my profile, I told them + no +, straight. I’m in a pro club, Rayo, I want to impose myself here. But my situation was too uncertain…”

With Fuenlabrada, Nteka narrowly missed the rise to the professional level in the first season, then reached it in his second season.

His best memory in football, still today. “When you go up, I find it hard to believe that I have achieved my goal: I am a professional footballer”, he recalls.

– Falcao’s apprentice – The following summer, ironically, several La Liga teams knocked on his doorstep… including Rayo Vallecano.

“I tell myself that the wheel has turned”, slips today this converted N.8 center forward. “Today, we can talk about a waking dream, but it’s true that there were difficult times…”, he confesses.

On August 29, Rayo beat Granada 4-0 at home during the third day of La Liga. That day, Nteka delivered an assist and scored his first La Liga goal.

“It was the first time my parents came to the stands since my return to Rayo. When I make the first assist, I say to myself + that’s it, I’m in my game, my season is on, I’m not going anymore stop+. And when I score, I feel like the world stops. I can’t believe it. It was unbelievable. Even today, sometimes I watch the video of the goal!”, Nteka breathes.

With three goals and two assists in 16 league games, Nteka has become one of the strengths of this surprising promotion which is upsetting the La Liga hierarchy, alongside Colombian Radamel Falcao. And he hopes to continue his crazy story with a win against reigning Spanish champions Atlético Madrid on Sunday.

Randy Nteka can still play for the Leopards because he is of Angolan and Congolese descent.



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