Mati Zata has revealed he was sold on Dundee United after getting a history lesson from a member of the club’s greatest-ever team.
The midfielder was at Rangers when an offer came through to leave the Light Blues and continue his career for Tannadice.
Zata turned to his youth coach at the Light Blues’ academy, Billy Kirkwood, for advice and the man who was a key member of Jim McLean’s 1983 Premier League champions was only too happy to give his old club a ringing endorsement.
The Alloa-born 18-year-old, who holds joint UK-Zimbawean nationality and has played for Scotland at under-16 level, listened to Kirkwood and made the move last February.
He hasn’t looked back since and is loving life with the Tangerines.
Zata said: “I was at Rangers from the age of 13 – four years – and learned a lot.
“In the last couple of months there, though, I wasn’t getting enough game time and I am the type of player who needs to be playing on a consistent basis.
“The offer came up to join United from Dave Bowman and I took it and haven’t looked back since.
“I have been enjoying it ever since and it’s a really good club with a proud tradition.
“I had a coach at Ibrox who used to play for Dundee United, Billy Kirkwood, and he told me a lot about the place before I came here.
“I heard all about the history from him.
“Now we just need to get back to where we belong – the top league.”
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Zata came off the bench to have a fine game for reserve coach Craig Easton’s team in their 3-2 win over St Johnstone’s colts in the previous round of the Irn-Bru Cup.
He is likely to be on from the start today when a team consisting predominantly of young players take on Alloa at Tannadice in the same competition.
Zata said: “I played against St Johnstone in the last round and, coming off the bench, I had to be prepared for anything.
“I was disappointed not to start but when I got the chance I really wanted to show what I am all about. I think I did quite a good job against St Johnstone.
“We are all loving playing in this tournament because it’s great experience.
“You are up against a mixed group of boys, with some experienced first-team players in with the younger lads.
“You are also playing in front of a crowd at Tannadice so it’s a good learning curve for everyone.
“It was good to hear the crowd every time you made a tackle or played a pass. It’s nice for a young player and gives you an extra boost.”
United will be trying to beat the Wasps at the third time of asking, having lost a penalty shootout in the Betfred Cup and then drawn in the league at the Indodrill Stadium last Saturday.
Zata knows it will be challenge for Eastons’ youthful side, saying: “Alloa have a lot of decent individual players as we saw on Saturday and we need to step up a gear as a team.”