In December 2019, now Rangers player/coach Jermain Defoe sent an Instagram message regarding one of the club’s leading young striking talents in Dapo Mebude.
Showing early on why he has all the attributes to step into coaching, Defoe shared an image of himself hugging the teenage forward and claiming he’ll be watching him score for years to come.
But whilst Defoe signs on for another year at Ibrox as a 38-year-old, Dapo Mebude – at half the legendary England forward’s age – is one of a number of youth players released from the club this summer.
With ten players released from Ibrox, alongside Ciaran Dickson and Jamie Barjonas, Mebude is one of three youngsters who’ll be leaving the club having at one stage broken through into the first team.
Barjonas has had his chances and there’s little doubt at 22 he needs game time to develop and a spell under Kevin Thomson at Kelty Hearts in League Two beckons.
Dickson – who made his debut this season in the League Cup against Falkirk – is perhaps the headline grabbing release and it’s not clear why he’s gone from the subs bench to the exit door.
But what happened in Dapo Mebude’s career to see him fail to reach Defoe’s vision at Ibrox – for the time being at least – and never feature again after the final game of the 18/19 season against Kilmarnock?
During Steven Gerrard’s first season at Rangers Mebude signed an extension to his contract in the December of 2018, tying him to the club until this summer.
The striker played the best part of half an hour at Rugby Park as the Gers fell to an infamous 2-1 defeat at the hands of now Scotland boss Steve Clarke but has failed to kick on since.
A Scotland-U19 international, Mebude played reserve and youth football for the club after this, featuring heavily in the UEFA Youth League of the 19/20 season, scoring against Slovan Bratislava.
Mebude even captained the youth squad in the second leg of the first-round clash with BSC Young Boys and netted twice in the Colts Challenge Cup run the same season, missing only one match.
Having earned 11 U19 caps and scoring four goals, this was a decent level of performance from the youngster despite failing to break back into the first team.
Then followed Mebude’s first proper loan spell out of Ibrox in the Scottish Championship with Queen of the South, this a vital moment in his development.
Despite making eight starts in eleven appearances and scoring twice for the Doonhammers, his time in Dumfries was cut short by an SFA ban for a Covid-19 rule breach with four Rangers teammates.
The striker had already missed two games through quarantining in the aftermath of the story breaking and it’s perhaps telling that the other youth player involved in the breach, Brian Kinnear, also failed to bounce back from this with the Ibrox hierarchy.
However, Rangers are clear they forgave the players involved in the incident and even appealed the strict bans handed out to all five for attending a party in Glasgow’s west end.
It’s also interesting to note that only a year on from Dapo breaking into the first team his younger brother Dire Mebude moved on to the Manchester City Academy.
Dapo’s story is one of missed opportunity at Ibrox although there are clearly no hard feelings regarding the forward’s departure.
Wherever he goes next Mebude certainly has talent he can fulfil and we’re sure there will be no shortage of suitors at lower league level for a player who did once make the Rangers first team.
However, Jermain Defoe’s image of Mebude scoring goals whilst the veteran forward watches on sipping tea – at Rangers at least – appears to have been short-lived.
Whilst Mebude and nine teammates form part of the tranche of players leaving Ibrox, the Gers also announced a rake of young talent have signed new deals at the club.