Sports.

The touching story of Eduoard Mendy; Chelsea’s first African goal keeper

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Mendy is the perfect example of a late developer in football, Rejected by many clubs at the beginning of his career, only signing his first professional contract when he was 24 years old. Because of his hard work and perseverance, he was one of the best in Ligue 1 last season.

Eduoard Mendy
Eduoard Mendy

Though he was born in France, he represented Senegal at the international level and was a runner-up at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, even though he played only two matches before injury ruled him.

The New Chelsea keeper, Edouard Mendy, who was signed the day before yesterday, has had a very hard journey to the top, with a career that has brought consecutive relegations, several months of unemployment, and injury. He still persevered to the top.

The 28-year-old, born in the French city of Le Havre, began his career down the road at third-tier Cherbourg in 2011. He joined the team as a third-choice keeper, but he took the chances offered to him as he slowly climbed up the pecking order, through hard work. Unfortunately, Mendy’s third season with Cherbourg ended with the club being relegated. The only benefit was that he was offered a starting spot as the club played in the French fourth tier. Things did not go to plan as the club was once again relegated – prompting the toughest period of Mendy’s life so far.

At 22, his contract with Cherbourg had come to an end. He waited patiently for an agent who promised him a move to England to fulfill his promise to help Mendy move to an English League One club. During this time, Mendy even rejected offers from lower-league clubs in France as he waited for a phone call, but It never came. As of then, there were no other options, so he returned home to Le Havre without a job.

He didn’t still relent as he was trying to stay fit at home: he jogged alone, went to the gym, trained with some local clubs. He never gave up. Mendy was forced to register with the Pole Emploi, France’s unemployment French agency, as he seriously considered his future in the game with no income at all.

After a year without a club, what seemed like a change of fortune happened and in 2015, thanks to his old friend Lavie, his former teammate. A former France youth international with DR Congo heritage, the man who got Mendy’s career up and running again.

“I was speaking with one of my friends, Dominique Bernatowicz, in charge of the goalkeepers at Marseille’s academy, and he was looking to fill the last spot,” Lavie says. “I told him I used to play with one very good, tall, intelligent guy with a lot of room for progress. I added that he was trying to find any opportunity.”



One chat with Mendy was enough to convince Bernatowicz of Mendy’s motivation.

Mendy accepted the chance of a trial with the French giants, despite the fact it was only to become the fourth-choice goalkeeper. Even if he was accepted, he would only train with the first team – and play with the second team – sporadically.

His trial was very good. He could stretch and dive easily; that week was ‘Mendy’s last chance’. Pleased after Bernatowicz convinced the club to offer Mendy a one-year amateur contract on minimum salary.

Mendy started working had. He used the opportunity to rebuild his career, while his pregnant girlfriend stayed back in Le Havre. Mendy played just a handful of times for Marseille’s second team during that season. His hard work paid off as it was enough for him to be offered a two-year deal.

He wasn’t satisfied with being a Marseille reserve and Other clubs were interested. Opportunities were coming Mendy’s way, and he decided to challenge himself again by joining Reims, then in Ligue 2, as a back-up keeper. At reims, He got the opportunity to prove himself sooner than he expected. During the first game of the season, the coach had to put him in as the number one received a red card, and he performed well.

Even as a number two, he always had a leader’s mindset and was very vocal in the locker room. He is valuable in a squad because he knows how to speak at the right time.

It was the opportunity that Mendy needed. That season he and his defense kept clean sheets in 19 out of 38 league matches. Reims gained promotion to Ligue 1. In that first top-flight season, he played every game for Reims and managed another 14 shutouts. His performances led to a move to Ligue 1 rivals Rennes last year. His exploits in France have also helped Mendy achieve his dream of playing for Senegal, where his parents are from

During his first season at Reims, Guinea-Bissau was called-up, but it wasn’t a Fifa fixture, so he went there knowing that he still had the option to join Senegal later. When the coach of Senegal heard about that, he realized it wouldn’t be a good idea to lose him.”

Mendy earned his first Senegal cap in November 2018 and soon established himself as their first-choice keeper. Mendy earned his first Senegal cap in November 2018 and soon established himself as their first-choice keeper.

  • He was part of the Teranga Lions squad for the 2019 Nations Cup in Egypt and played in their opening two games before a hand injury ruled him out of the rest of the tournament, which saw Senegal reach the final. For Mendy, it was another obstacle to overcome. His ability to recover from setbacks has helped him to a position where he can now look forward to playing in the Premier League and the Champions League.

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Francis Chidera
the authorFrancis Chidera
Popularly known as Chokolate is a content creator. A lover of simplified words making it easy to get to a wider audience. It pains to see that Africans are forgetting and neglecting who they are, hence, I am passionate about reminding us of our culture. I work with 54history on the African culture category, to achieve this aim.

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