Edouard Mendy, from the Honorary Division to the Champions League

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy for Rennes, during a match against Metz, in Longeville-lès-Metz, on December 4, 2019.

Tuesday, September 29, goalkeeper Edouard Mendy played, against English club Tottenham, his first match for Chelsea. The London team have relieved themselves of 25 million euros to buy this giant of 1.98 meters at the Stade Rennes.

An accomplishment for this 28-year-old player with a winding career, passed through the Honorary Division, the French championship, unemployment or even the B team of Olympique de Marseille, and whose first professional contract was signed only in the summer of 2016, when he arrived in Reims. For the first time in his career, he is therefore set to play in the Champions League, where he could face his cousin Ferland Mendy, the French international from Real Madrid.

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Edouard Mendy, born in Montivilliers, near Le Havre, to a Senegalese mother and a Bissau-Guinean father, revealed himself late in Reims, then in Rennes. He had joined the highly regarded training center at Le Havre Athletic Club (HAC) in 2005, but the adventure was over after a year. The young goalkeeper then headed for another club in the port city, the Municipalities of Le Havre, very far from the professional world he always promised himself to join.

I have had it several times in training, reports Franco-Senegalese Abasse Ba, a former Le Havre player, then coach of Team B and now in charge of the national Under-17s. What struck me about Mendy was his seriousness, his determination. He was always on time, with others arriving late, very relaxed. Sure, he played in the Honorary Division, but he never gave up on going professional. It was his project and he was preparing for it.

Registered at Pôle emploi

He had – a little – approached AS Cherbourg (then playing in the third division), going from goalkeeper number 3 to holder. But instead of joining a Ligue 1 or Ligue 2 training course, Edouard Mendy, who also holds a pro business baccalaureate, enrolled at Pôle Emploi after leaving Cherbourg. For a while he even considered responding favorably to a friend’s offer to run a store.

A phone call from Olympique Marseille, which allows him to don the club’s number 3 costume, tears him away from unemployment and an uncertain future. At OM, however, he is content with a few appearances for the B team (National 2) and still does not see the arrival of that longed-for first professional contract.

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But everything changed when Reims, then playing in Ligue 2, tried a sporting bet with this player obviously doomed to frequent the amateur divisions. Jean-Pierre Caillot, the president of Reims, discovers the existence, through his networks, of this lanky guardian. “ He was 24, so Edouard was no longer a hope. But we knew he already had a history and that he could take a step forward. We brought him in for a salary of 6,000 euros per month, in a role of understudy », Explains the manager.

In addition to his purely sporting qualities, Jean-Pierre Caillot discovers an ambitious personality and a man who is very comfortable in society. ” He quickly integrated. He is a smart boy, who communicates a lot. It made him a leader, whether in the locker room or on the pitch. His temperament, his will to succeed, his investment in work allowed him to achieve his goals. “

Wear the Teranga Lions jersey

The excellent season he had in 2018-2019, when Stade de Reims returned to Ligue 1, prompted Jean-Pierre Caillot to extend his contract in January 2019 and increase his salary.

Rennes, despite competition from foreign clubs, will nevertheless succeed in making the president of Reims bend. ” In Rennes, he was offered to play for a Europa League qualified team, with a bigger salary. And that’s what happened again with his transfer to Chelsea. It was only natural for him to accept. He wants to play at the top level, to earn money. It makes sense when you have known the amateur divisions, unemployment, the galley … In a few years, everything has accelerated with the signing of his first pro contract, L1, L2, England, the Senegalese team. It’s a sporting adventure, but also a human one », Specifies Jean-Pierre Caillot.

Edouard Mendy indeed became Senegalese international in November 2018, against Equatorial Guinea (2-0). This choice to wear the Teranga Lions jersey has long been accepted, even if, a few weeks after his arrival in Reims, he had participated in a rally in Guinea-Bissau, ” to please my father, who was very ill. But the selection I expected was that of Senegal He explained later. A country he did not discover thanks to football: before becoming international, he regularly visited the family home in Casamance. Eleven months after the Lions’ last game, Mendy will return to his selection for friendly matches against Morocco in Rabat on October 9, and against Mauritania in Thiès, four days later.

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