Fashion Sakala is comfortable handling the expectations of the Rangers fans after thriving as a Zambian “role model”.
The summer signing from Oostende scored his first goal for Rangers on Sunday, although visiting Motherwell manager Graham Alexander noted he was in an “obvious offside” position.
The day ended in disappointment for Rangers supporters following a 1-1 draw and now there is expectation for their side to improve on their cup record when they host Livingston in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Speaking at a media event, Sakala said: “Even before I signed for Rangers, I knew Rangers and I was following Rangers. Before I made the decision to sign, I knew that the challenge I was taking was the challenge of pressure.
“It is a very good pressure to win. This is something that I like. It gives me pressure to work extra hard.
“I know the fans were disappointed but we are very positive to give them what they want.
“This is the love they have for the club. The only thing that can keep them happy is to win games. And I believe we are going to do it for them.”
Sakala has been dealing with the burden of expectation since leaving Africa as a teenager to join Spartak Moscow. He is well aware his fellow Zambians are watching his progress closely.
The 24-year-old said: “It’s something that has helped me to keep going. Looking at where I have come from, I have been a role model to a lot of people. People just didn’t think a football player would come from there.
“But I have made it to reach this level, and I believe I am still going. And being a role model is something that helps me to keep going.
“I believe I have to stay disciplined and I have to stay committed to the work – and work extra hard – so I continue inspiring a lot of people from my area in the country.
“That gives me more courage and confidence to work extra hard, to be that role model for a long period of time in my country.
“It’s a very big responsibility and I think it is helping me because if I didn’t have to consider it as a responsibility then maybe I would have been acting badly and not committing myself to hard work or not being positive.
“So I think the responsibility I am carrying on my shoulders makes me stay on a positive straight line, keep going forward and keep working extra hard.”
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has called on his forwards to be more clinical and Sakala believes he will improve after netting his first goal in his seventh appearance.
“Honestly, I’m in a learning process,” he said. “I can’t say I’m the answer, but as a striker I know my mission. And the mission is always to help the team.
“I had an injury a few weeks ago. I think that’s the only problem that frustrated me a little bit. Now I’m really happy. I’m back to full fitness and I’m getting my confidence again. I think I have a lot to offer the club.”