Édouard Mendy: from amateur footballer to best goalkeeper in the world
Édouard Mendy will have to settle for a remote prize giving for his second individual trophy of the season. After being voted goalkeeper of the 2020-2021 season by UEFA last August, the 1m97 goalkeeper won « The Best » trophy for the best goalkeeper for the year 2021. Peter Schmeichel, goalkeeper goal of the victorious Danish selection of Euro 1992 and invited by Fifa to comment on the result, speaks of Édouard Mendy as a « revelation ». A label to which the Senegalese has been accustomed since his debut.
(Re)see – Football: Edouard Mendy voted best African player
An atypical but not unique journey
Édouard Mendy walked amateur lawns for many years before becoming a professional footballer. Born on March 1, 1992 in Montivilliers, near Le Havre, the goalkeeper learned to play football in the Caucriauville club, a district of the port city. He joined the Le Havre training center at the age of 14, but only stayed there for one year before taking over the management of the Le Havre municipal services sports club, where he played until 2011.
According to Vincent Duluc, senior reporter for L’Équipe and football specialist, his winding journey is not unique. « Many players of his generation have had similar backgrounds. This is the case of N’golo Kanté, for example, who has never even gone through a training center », details the journalist, « but there was also Frank Ribéry, Laurent Koscielny and even Olivier Giroud who first evolved in the lower echelons before succeeding at the highest level ».
At the age of 19, a large part of footballers have already started their professional career. Édouard Mendy, he joined AS Cherbourg, a third division club as third goalkeeper. He rose through the ranks to become number 1 in the fourth division after three seasons, his club having been relegated the previous season. Unfortunately, the titular adventure ended after the 2013-2014 season: Mendy was then 22 years old and his club had just been downgraded administratively to the sixth division.
The young goalkeeper then plans to end his career. « I said to myself a dozen times that for me football was over. It’s a time when you want to stop everything », he confided to Téléfoot in May 2021. « It was my mother who advised me to register with Pôle Emploi, I had no idea how it worked. Sometimes I think about it and I don’t wish that on anyone ».
When I was unemployed, the highest possible for me was Ligue 2! »
6 years ago, Edouard Mendy was unemployed. Next week, he will play the UCL final with Chelsea. Exclusively, he tells his incredible journey to @JulienMaynard
See you Sunday at 11 a.m.! pic.twitter.com/FIhjd5VNcc
— Telefoot (@telefoot_TF1) May 21, 2021
Abda Sall, a Franco-Senegalese journalist for the Quotidien program and a former video analyst for Côte d’Ivoire’s national youth teams, is full of praise for his compatriot. « He’s still someone who went through unemployment and who today is one of the very best goalkeepers in the world: it clearly demonstrates his strength of character », he insists.
From unemployment to victory in the Champions League
In 2022, Gianluigi Donnarumma will be 23 years old. At the age of his main competitor in the individual awards this season, Édouard Mendy left Pôle Emploi to sign his first professional contract. He then joined the reserve team of Olympique de Marseille in National 2. This experience, during which he played little, nevertheless served as a springboard. The following season, in 2016, he joined Reims in Ligue 2. After a season as a back-up to Johann Carrasso, Édouard Mendy won the starting spot and helped the Champagne club to move up to Ligue 1.
Since, « wherever he goes, he wins », according to Abda Sall. Indeed, Reims’ rise to Ligue 1 was punctuated by a Ligue 2 champion title. After a season as a starter in the first division, Édouard Mendy joined Stade Rennais. He will remain one season in Brittany and will help the club to secure third place in the championship, the best ranking in the history of Stade Rennais, as well as an unprecedented qualification in the Champions League. He signed the following season for Chelsea. He takes the starting place at Kepa after a month and wins the Champions League at the end of his first season. « When we look at his career, we realize that he has an exceptional ability to adapt: his current level is not the result of chance ».
“We can only be complimentary about his career”
“He is a hard worker who has a great state of mind”, according to Frank Simon, consultant for Canal Plus Afrique and journalist for the 2022mag.com site. “He is also very generous and positive”, continues the journalist, « and besides that he’s a huge competitor ». Worker, humble, discreet, joking, there is no shortage of laudatory qualifiers to describe Édouard Mendy. However, a term often comes up, that of « quiet strength ».
According to Abda Sall, who has closely followed Mendy’s career since his time in Remmoise, « we hear only good things about his former teammates ». Not only does he reassure his defenders on the pitch, but according to the journalist, « he fits perfectly everywhere: these teammates love him from a human point of view ». At the end of a match between Rennes and Chelsea, when Édouard Mendy had left the club a few weeks earlier, the goalkeeper had burst into tears while greeting his former teammates.
Attached to his past, Édouard Mendy remains nonetheless forward-looking and determined. Abda Sall insists: « he is calm and humble, of course, but he is also very ambitious and gives himself the means to succeed ». For Frank Simon, the goalkeeper always believed in him « because he is hardworking and because he has a great state of mind. Without this inner strength, he would not have had the same journey ».
Aim even higher?
There are still a few trophies that Édouard Mendy must win to complete his list. His closest ambition: to win the CAN with Senegal. The Teranga Lions are the favorites of a competition they have never won. The keeper would be « extremely motivated to win a trophy with the selection » according to Abda Sall.
When he returns, he will have to help his club Chelsea fight against leaders Manchester City for a chance to win the English championship. In addition, Chelsea is still engaged in the Champions League. With his selection, Édouard Mendy will also try to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
As for individual trophies, Édouard Mendy only lacks one: the Lev Yachine trophy, rewarding the best goalkeeper of the year during the Ballon d’Or ceremony. Gianluigi Donnarumma took top honors in 2021, « an aberration » for Abda Sall. « I can’t find a coherent explanation. Édouard Mendy plays in the best league in the world, he was voted best goalkeeper in the championship and he was named best goalkeeper in the Champions League, which he also won », develops the journalist, for which Mendy « is still in progress ». Édouard Mendy has not finished impressing observers of world football. This year could be another golden year for Édouard Mendy.
(Re)read – Lev Yachine Trophy: Senegal deplores Édouard Mendy’s second place