Author: Freddie Lammie
Freddie Lammie speaks to Man City and Scotland U21 forward Dire Mebude, who left Rangers in 2020 to pursue an opportunity in Manchester. Dire hasn’t looked back since, scoring 12 times and registering 17 assists on his way to winning the U18s Players’ Player of the Year award last season.
TSS: How did your football journey start? It seems like you have come from a footballing family?
DM: I was born in Kent, in England. I moved up to Glasgow when I was seven or eight. My brother was kicking ball for ages. He used to play for Rangers but he dropped out when he was around 18, and he’s an agent now. [My other older brother] Dapo plays for Oostende in Belgium. My little brother is playing right now. It’s a football mad family.
I was around 11 when I started playing above my age group for Rangers. It was not even until I was 14/15 years old when I thought that it could properly be serious.
TSS: As much as you will always have affection for Rangers, when Man City come knocking, it’s difficult to turn them down, no?
DM: The move was during Covid which made it different. Once I had visited Man City, I knew straight away! It was a change, for sure – at the start it was very tough and difficult to adapt to. Once you know that you need to be on the top of your game every day, you get your chance eventually. Obviously they thought I’m good enough to play.
TSS: You initially found it difficult to break into the starting eleven for the U18s – what changed?
DM: The gaffer [Ben Wilkinson] helped me a lot. He’s the man. It changed quickly, in the space of six months, and I was playing really well. I put my mind to it more because I knew that I’d get the opportunity. It was a mad season.
TSS: One player you seem to strike up a good relationship with is winger Carlos Borges?
DM: He’s dangerous. Just knowing that I’ve got him on the other wing is mad because I know how direct he is. He’s mad quick. The burners are mad. We get each other and I really like playing with him.
TSS: You’re both a fan of the cutback, I see?
DM: It’s more me cutting it back to him! He just gets in the right positions. We just understand each other.
TSS: That 13-0 win to Newcastle last season must have been a highlight?
DM: We played them away earlier on in the season, and we drew 2-2. We’re thinking, at home, in a big title race, we need to show them how serious we are. Everything just clicked on the day. At half-time, we were thinking, this is a bit mad, but we thought let’s just keep going and see how mad we can make the game. We came out and did that.
TSS: Why do you win all the time? What is the secret?
DM: I think it’s just the style of play. All of our players are so comfortable on the ball and we trust in the process so much that if it’s going wrong, we stick together and we still end up finding a solution to win a game or find a decent result. We’re much braver – there are certain teams who play but when they get pressed too hard they start booting it long. We’re not like that – we play and keep playing.
TSS: What have you made of the step-up from the U18s to the EDS?
DM: I think the game is quicker and more physical playing against players above your age. I thought that the transition has been smooth. You do get games like those in the EFL trophy where you’re playing against 30-year-old men. It’s good to experience all of that.
TSS: You’ve trained a number of times with the first-team this season! What is it like working with Pep? What are the conversations like? And who have you enjoyed getting to know in the first-team?
DM: He doesn’t speak much apart from when he’s on the pitch and being tactical. But his knowledge is frightening – the amount he knows, the solutions he comes up with and the formations he plays with, it’s crazy to be a part of it. He’s too smart!
At the moment, because I’m not there everyday, I’m trying to stick with the mandem. There’s obviously [Phil] Foden and Cole [Palmer] who have been through the academy so they’re just normal guys!
TSS: Individual goals for the end to the season?
DM: Before the start of the season, my aim was to hit more than 30 goal contributions in the season and I’m on track for it, so hopefully I can achieve it!
TSS: Thank you for your time Dire! Make sure you follow the socials if you haven’t already! You can find us @thesecretscout1 on Instagram, @TheSecretScout_ on Twitter, and THESECRETSCOUT on YouTube! Stay tuned for more content coming your way…