New Watford signing Mathias Ranegie believes he could be a perfect fit for the Championship and hopes that starting his football career late will allow him to play long into his thirties at Vicarage Road.
Ranegie, 29, finalised a move to the Hornets on a permanent deal from Udinese a fortnight ago having made only four appearances for the Italian side this season.
The 6ft 5in striker, who is known for his physical attributes and fearless attitude, believes his style of play could be ideal for the hard and fast nature of English football.
“I think I’m a player that fits in this league,” said Ranegie, who has recently recovered from a hamstring strain.
“I do have that fearless side to my game. Even if you have a big body it doesn’t make much of a difference if you’re afraid. But I’m not afraid on the pitch.
“English clubs often play with big strikers – it’s very common to have these kinds of players, especially in the Championship.
“Often the wingers have very good feet and they want to cross the ball into the box so I think I’ll fit in very well here.”
He added with a smile: “I don’t want to only talk about my body – I’m not brainless, I can play with my head too – but I am a physical player.”
Ranegie says he didn’t start playing “serious football” until he was 22 when he signed for IFK Gothenburg but after an indifferent spell at the Swedish giants he made a name for himself at BK Häcken, where he scored 36 goals in 81 appearances.
Malmo signed him in 2011 and 13 goals in 26 games persuaded Udinese to sign the forward in August last summer.
Ranegie admits he sometimes wonders how far he could have gone had he started football earlier but he insists there are positives to be taken too.
“I’ve thought about it of course,” he said.
“But starting late was probably good for my body too. I used to get injuries when I was a kid because I was so tall.
“I had problems with my knees and then I had a couple of years where I didn’t play football so my body is maybe not like other 29 year olds.
“I think it’s younger and I hope I might be able to go on longer as a result.”
Ranegie, who says he was close to joining Blackpool and Middlesbrough a few years ago, nearly moved to Watford last summer but injuries to strikers at Udinese delayed the transfer.
He says he is well aware of the competitive nature of the Championship and is adamant Watford’s promotion hopes are far from over.
Ranegie said: “There are so many classic teams in this division – almost every team has been in the Premier League so it’s a beautiful league and I know it’s very unpredictable.
“There’s still that old English thing where some of the teams are big, some are small, some are teams who like to play football and some are physical and high tempo teams – but they can all win.”
He continued: “The play-offs are still close. If anyone thinks we can’t make the play-offs they don’t understand football.
“There are so many games left and if you start winning, you can keep on winning. My dream here is to make a difference.”
Ranegie had personal problems when he was young and a disenchantment with football, as well as injuries, contributed to his late arrival in football.
Religion helped the Swede steer his life back on track and he believes through football, God gave him a second chance.
“I found God and he saved me, he showed me how to live,” he said. “I think talent is a blessing from a higher power and that it’s something somebody gives you.
“I lost it and then I think God gave it back to me.”
He continued: “There are so many football players who drop out from football when they’re young and they think it’s too late to pick it up again.
“I turned back to football when I was 22 and that shows if you have the talent you can do great things – talent is just the start.”
Ranegie hopes his personal problems as a teenager don’t influence Hornets supporters’ perception of him now. He wants to be judged solely as a footballer.
When asked if he appreciates more what he has now because of his past, he joked: “I think I do but I have to be honest, I’m still like every other football player a lot of the time.
“Nobody can be humble all the time – I’ve been a football player for nine years now and sometimes, believe me, I forget.
“I know how I should probably answer this question but to be honest, I complain about the weather like everyone else.”