Cameroonian Manny Monthe's career resurrection a lesson in self-belief
Three years ago, Cameroonian Manny Monthe was playing in the doldrums of Non-League football and on the verge of quitting his career after failing to make the grade in England's professional leagues.
The future had looked bright for Monthe early on in his career, where he showed true potential at the Queens Park Rangers academy, but it was not to last. Now, though, he's a bright light in League one for Tranmere Rovers, who take on Doncaster in Saturday.
The defender endured an extremely frustrating spell with QPR's first team after being promoted from the academy at the beginning of the 2013/14 season. But veteran defenders Richard Dunne, Clint Hill and Aaron Hughes were all preferred ahead of the bulky player by legendary English manager Harry Redknapp.
With very little game time under his belt, the club decided to cut their losses and send Monthe packing at the end of his maiden campaign with a professional first team.
Monthe admits it has been a tough journey to get where he is today, but it is one he has relished despite the setback of being let go from a club where he developed his skills as a young player.
"I came here at a young age. My mother got an opportunity here in England to come study, and work, so we made the trip to try make something out of our lives. My mother wanted to give me a better future," Monthe told ESPN.
"When I started football, I came through the ranks at QPR, from a schoolboy to a professional. At QPR I was told my game time would be limited which I accepted. It's part of the game, it's normal. But when QPR let me go it was hard to swallow, but I had to deal with it. I had to keep working hard and never give up.
"It's been a long journey to get where I am and it's still continuing. I am only going to get better."
After being disappointedly dumped, he gained valuable experience and developed mental toughness while playing for the likes of Southport, Hayes & Yeading United, Havant & Waterlooville and Bath City between 2014 and 2016.
Monthe's breakthrough came when he joined Forest Green Rovers in November 2016, where he helped the team win the National League play-offs at the end of the season. The Douala-born player made 16 appearances and netted an important goal in the 3-2 win over Barrow, before producing a solid performance at the back as Rovers defeated his future club Tranmere 3-1 in the 2016/17 play-offs final.
Rovers secured promotion to the League Two and Monthe finally made his debut in the EFL during the 2017/18 season, but that was not the best of it. The 24-year-old's exploits at Rovers attracted interest from Tranmere and he joined the Super Whites on loan in February 2018, before the deal was made permanent at the end of the season.
Monthe has since become a hero at the Merseyside-based side, having played an instrumental role in helping Tranmere secure promotion into English Football League One.
Tranmere were so impressed with his form in the heart of defence that they decided to hand him a new deal ahead of the current season, much to the delight of club's manager Micky Mellon.
"We're delighted that Manny will be moving forward with us. He has been part of two very successful seasons here which have seen us achieve back-to-back promotions," explained Mellon on the club's official website.
"A solid defence has been a key part of achieving that success, and ensuring that Manny stayed to lead the backline in League One was a key priority for me. He's a young player with a hugely bright future and I'm delighted he has committed to us."
The towering defender, standing at 1.94 metres, is grateful for the opportunity afforded to him by Tranmere but believes it is his dedication to his craft and his determination to never give up which has seen him flourish.
"Tranmere has uplifted my career and also me as a person, and I am thankful to them, but consistency, concentration, working hard in training and the gym has helped me get here," said Monthe.
"When you are playing week in and week out you gain that experience which also comes with consistency and confidence. With that it's a massive morale boost for me to play at my best. There are no limits here at Tranmere Rovers because it's a massive football club.
"Anything is achievable. I am here to play my football and push the club up the English football ladder and into the Championship."