Swansea City's Angel Rangel ready to back Wales after facing Arsenal
ANGEL Rangel recently dubbed himself an honorary Welshman after signing a new Swansea City contract — so naturally he'll be backing Rob Howley's team today.
Like many at the Liberty for Arsenal's visit this afternoon, Rangel will be racing back to watch Wales's crucial Six Nations clash with England afterwards.
Rugby was an alien concept to the right-back when he arrived from Spanish minnows Terassa in 2007.
But after living in Swansea for six years, during which time he has married a Welsh girl, the 30-year-old has become attached to his new home, and its customs
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"I have been watching the rugby, especially Wales. I have been a Wales fan for the last five or six years, since I've been here," said Rangel.
"I went to watch Wales against Italy at the Millennium Stadium when they won the Grand Slam.
"I had a great experience and since then I've always followed Wales.
"I don't understand all the rules, but I understand the game.
"The way Wales play I think is great. The ball is always in play and that's great to see.
"We all know that if Wales win they are going to spoil the Grand Slam for England, which would be fantastic."
Rangel settled in Swansea after being signed by Roberto Martinez when the club was in League One.
He has been a regular figure ever since, playing a key part as the Swans sealed two promotions before this season's Capital One Cup triumph.
The Spanish defender was rewarded with a new three-year contract last week and is happy his future lies in these parts.
"When I married a Welsh woman I knew I was going to be in Swansea for a long time," he said.
"I feel comfortable in Wales and it has become one of my homes.
"It would be an amazing weekend if we beat Arsenal and Wales beat England.
"Hopefully it will happen, we will get 43 points and Wales will win the Six Nations."
Rangel shares a gym with some of Wales's Ospreys stars like Ryan Jones and Adam Jones.
And he admits to being slightly intimidated by their workout routines.
"In the changing room they are big lads, but in the bar they're even bigger," he jokes.
"If you have one drink they have three so you can understand why they are so big.
"And in the gym, if you lift 20 kilos they lift 80, so you can't really compare.
"But they are all down to earth, even the internationals, so hopefully on Saturday they can win.
"I know Ryan Jones. When I see him we always have a talk and he's a great lad.
"James Hook I used to see when I first came here and Adam Jones is another top lad."
Rangel's stay in the Principality could have been significantly shorter had he ended up moving on when a couple of clubs came calling.
Roy Hodgson tried to bring the defender to Fulham in 2010, and that summer top-flight Blackpool were also interested in him.
On both occasions Swansea blocked the transfers and Rangel stayed put.
"I could have moved in the past, but I didn't and now I'm glad I didn't," he said.
"When we were in the Championship I had the chance to go to the Premier League, which would have been a step forward.
"But when you're in the Premier League you don't need to go anywhere.
"And you reach an age where you're enjoying your football, your family is happy so why move?"
"To move just for money is stupid. Football is a short career and you have to make sure that you are happy week in, week out.
"I've been lucky to do that for the last six years, and with my contract extension hopefully I can do that for another three."
Rangel aims to see out his playing days at Swansea and is then eyeing a move into coaching.
The popular defender has completed his Uefa B Licence and taken some sessions at the club's academy.
"When I finish my contract I will have been here nine seasons. Hopefully I can get another contract and get a testimonial," said Rangel.
"I want to stay here for as long as I can as a player, and when I've retired we'll see.
"Coaching is one of my targets.
"I don't want to put too much pressure on the chairman but coaching is something I enjoy doing.
"I've been coaching kids for a while so when I do retire that's something I'll consider, whether it's in Swansea or somewhere else.
"I have done some sessions with the under-9s, under-10s, under-15s and under-16s with Swansea academy.
"I haven't been with a senior team yet, but there is time for that."
That is for the future.
Rangel's immediate concern is stopping an Arsenal side who won at Bayern Munich in midweek, and in particular, shackling Theo Walcott.
The Arsenal flyer is among the quickest players in the Premier League so Swansea's defence will need their wits about them.
Walcott has not netted in three meetings with Swansea this season, but was on the scoresheet when Arsenal lost 3-2 at the Liberty last term.
Swansea are yet to be beaten by any of the top six in any competition in Landore this season.
They have lost just twice in SA1 this term, and Rangel is looking to maintain that strong home record.
"I have played against some fast players in the Premier League, and it is not easy when you're playing against the fastest," he added.
"It won't be easy, but it's great to play against all the big players in the Premier League.
"The big teams are used to having the ball most of the time and when they play Swansea that changes straightaway.
"Those teams are not used to chasing the ball, so after 20 minutes they are tired.
"Games against Arsenal have been very exciting. Last season we won 3-2, and to beat them at the Emirates this season was amazing. Playing good football is nice, but we really need to get the points as well."