“I want to make Rovers fans smile and sing” | Bryant Bilongo’s first interview

Bryant Bilongo poses at The Quarters

Bryant Bilongo is ready to give absolutely everything for the Bristol Rovers shirt, crest and fans.

The promising full-back completed a move to The Memorial Stadium from EFL Championship side Middlesbrough on Friday, signing a two-year deal with the Gas with the option of a further season.

The 22-year-old is the Club’s fifth signing of the 2024/25 summer transfer window and Bilongo is relishing the opportunity ahead of him in the blue-and-white quarters.

“It means a lot to sign for Bristol Rovers,” he said. “My career has been such a journey so far and to continue it by signing for such a big club like Rovers is amazing for me and my family. It’s a big achievement and this is a challenge I’m looking forward to.

“It’s been amazing to come here and see the facilities and get an idea of where I’m going to be working going forward. This is my new home and I’m excited to be here.”

Bilongo poses against the wall

Conversations with manager Matt Taylor and director of football George Friend played a huge role in Bilongo’s decision to move to Rovers.

Impressed by the ambition and direction of the Club, the defender is eager to show his own ability and talents can match the Pirate’s aspirations.

“The conversations with the manager and with George have been really good,” Bilongo continued. “They have high expectations of me, and I want to deliver for them. I have high expectations of myself too and I want to prove that this was the right move for everyone involved. I want to show them that they’ve made a good decision to sign me and repay that faith in me.

“I really got the feeling of what Bristol Rovers is about from them. This is a Club with high aspirations and I could really feel that. It’s one of the main reasons that I pushed to come here. They both told me that the Club is aiming high and wants to achieve things. Everyone is pushing in that direction, which is good to see and hear.

“The boss wants me to go out there and enjoy my football, and give my all for the team. That’s exactly what I intend to do. I will run, jump and fight for the team. I like to think I’m a quick runner on the pitch and I bring athleticism to the side. That’s probably one of the things I pride myself on the most.”

Bryant Bilongo poses

Having joined EFL Championship side Middlesbrough in January 2022, Bilongo has impressed in the Boro U21s side and during loan spells with Woking and Ebbsfleet United in the over the last campaign.

It has been a somewhat unique journey into the professional game for the defender. With the opportunity now in front of him, it is a chance he is eager to grasp with both hands.

He said: “My journey in football has been tough. It’s been different too. I’ve come from non-league and I’ve played there most of my life. I came into the professional league quite late compared to others. It was a different journey and everyone has a different pathway, and I wouldn’t change mine.

“When I was younger, my name was touted around a bit and as a kid that’s an exciting place to be. You can go from a certain level one day to suddenly having everyone watching you, checking out what you’re about. The move to Middlesbrough was a big jump for me but I relished that. It was an exciting part of my career.

The point, for me now, is to develop myself and become a man here. I want to assert myself in the EFL and show what I can do.
Bryant Bilongo

“I had a loan spell last season with Ebbsfleet that I feel like helped me a lot. I think it gave me the needed experience of men’s football. I felt like I needed to prove to everyone that I could handle it and I think I’ve been able to do that. The point, for me now, is to develop myself and become a man here. I want to assert myself in the EFL and show what I can do.”

With the ink dry on his contract with Rovers, Monday 1 July cannot roll around fast enough now for Bilongo, who is keen for the work to begin and to show just what he can do.

The thoughts of his first chance to play in front of the Gasheads at The Memorial Stadium are fixated in his mind. It will be an opportunity he does not want to waste.

He added: “Am I excited for pre-season? I’m looking forward to meeting everyone, but there is a lot of running involved in pre-season! It will be hard but I’m excited too and it will be great to be part of the team. 

Bryant Bilongo leans against the post

“I’m very much looking forward to my first introduction to the fans too. I’m looking forward to stepping out at The Mem for the first time. It will be a joy to be a part of the team. I’m just ready to get the season started.

“I just want to enjoy everything about being here. Obviously, first and foremost, this is a job, but I do intend to enjoy being a Rovers player to the fullest. I love it all. I love seeing and meeting fans, and everything about football. I think football can make your day.

“I am still, at my core, a massive football fan. This is a sport and it’s also entertainment, and I like being able to make the fans smile. I hope I can do that and give them plenty to smile and sing about.”

kit graphic
Read Time: 5 mins