Swansea’s adopted Welshman Angel Rangel speaks to Jack Magazine about his past, present and future as he prepares to make his 300th appearance for the Swans against Leicester City this afternoon.
When Angel Rangel joined Swansea City in 2007, he couldn’t have possibly imagined how different life might be seven years on.
As the Spanish right-back prepares to make his 300th appearance in all competitions for the Swans against Leicester City this afternoon, he has plenty to show for his time in South Wales.
Not only a fully-fledged Premier League player, a Capital One Cup winner and a key component in Swansea’s remarkable journey to the top, but he married a Welsh girl – whom he has three children with – and has built a house in his adopted city.
It’s safe to say that the man from Sant Carles de la Rapita, a small town in Catalonia, has found a home in South Wales.
“I came here to play football and didn’t expect to come here to get married and become a Welshman, but it has kind of happened that way,” smiles Rangel as he sits down for an exclusive chat with Jack Magazine.
“I feel at home. It’s different to Spain, but when you are in a place where the people are very friendly, the fans love you and are passionate about their football, it’s easy to settle down.
“Now I have a family here and a house in the city – I couldn’t ask for more.”
Arriving from Spanish Segunda B outfit Terrassa a single man, it didn’t take long for Rangel’s life to change off the field.
On an opportune shopping trip in Cardiff over six years ago, the adopted Welshman got more than he bargained for when he met his wife-to-be as he paid for a jumper in a departmental store.
“I met her in House of Fraser in Cardiff when she was working there,” he says.
“I was buying a jumper, and she was asking me questions about what I did for a living and things like that.
“She didn’t know who I was, but I left her my number, and we started having a few dates before it got more serious.
“Six years later, we have three kids and are married and have a house. It’s a good story, and I am really happy.”
Having grown up in Swansea, Rangel’s children have even developed Welsh accents.
“My wife’s family is Welsh, so my children can speak a bit of Welsh as well as Spanish,” adds the 31-year-old. “They have Welsh accents, especially the little one.
“I can speak a little bit of Welsh too – numbers and different phrases. Dai, who helps out at the training ground, always speaks to me in Welsh, so I pick it up a little bit.
“I think it all shows that I hope my future will be with Swansea for a long time – on and off the pitch.
“I feel really happy and proud to be a part of Swansea. And my family is very happy here, which is the most important thing.”
It’s not just off the field that Rangel has experienced vast changes during his time in Swansea.
When Roberto Martinez brought him to SA1, the Swans were in League One, with the glamour of the Premier League just a distant dream.
An exclusive club training ground was non-existent, showering after training took place alongside the general public, and kit was taken home by the players themselves to be washed and cleaned.
“When I first came, we didn’t have the facilities we do now,” Rangel recalls. “It was a completely different environment.
“My first day was actually here at Fairwood, but there wasn’t even a football pitch. It was just a field full of mud, and I remember it was raining hard.
“My first training session was strange; it was very different to what it is now.
“We were trying to be as professional as we could. We were cleaning our own training kit and boots until we were promoted and things started to change a bit.
“It’s taken a few years, but we are proud we are here now.”
Rangel epitomises the humility that has helped the Swans reach the dizzy heights of the Premier League and all of the success that has followed.
But while the full-back has witnessed many comings and goings during his stay in SA1, he insists the core of the club remains the same.
“A lot of the people who were at the club then are still here now, and they haven’t changed,” he adds.
“They’re all still honest, humble and hardworking people. This is one of the key reasons to why we are where we are today.”
Another mainstay over the years gone by is Rangel’s ever-presence in the Swansea back line.
Into his eighth season with the club and his fourth in the Premier League, the Spaniard still feels on top of his game under the management of his former team-mate Garry Monk.
“He communicates with every single player to make sure the winning mentality is in every single one of us,” adds Rangel.
“He gets the best out of all of us. You can see in the performances that we are going back to the days where we were dominating games, pressing our opponents and playing exciting football.
“His advantage is that he has played with a few of us, so he knows what we can give to the team.
“He knows how we succeeded before when under Brendan we reached the Premier League. He’s a young manager but he has a great future.”
And, once his playing days are over, does emulating Monk’s transition from player to manager interest him?
“It’s difficult to talk about the future, but it would be a dream to manage a team that has given me so much,” admits Rangel. “I’ve done my badges, so it’s something I would consider.
“I have been in football for a long time now, but when my playing career is over, it would be great to go into coaching.
“It would be fantastic, but I am focusing on my playing career at the moment. We will see what the future brings.”
Given his remarkable rise to prominence, Rangel surely has a bright future in Swansea both on and off the pitch, but the gaffer need not worry about his job just yet!