Not only that but he was named FIFA’s best goalkeeper in the world yesterday at The Best event in Zurich.
The Senegalese-born goalkeeper’s path was not easy. Mendy’s journey to the top was fraught with ups and downs.
He was laid off at one point and thought his world was coming to an end. In 2021, Edouard Mendy was in goal as Chelsea defeated Manchester United 1-0 to win the club’s second Champions League title.
Edouard Mendy has gone from being unemployed to Chelsea’s No. 1 goalkeeper in the space of six years. The protagonist of the story is an optimist with a world-class sporting mindset.
Frank Lampard, former Chelsea manager, signed Mendy to compete with club-record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has struggled for form, and on the advice of transfer advisor and club legend Petr Cech. Mendy, like Cech, comes from Rennes with something to prove.
Mendy, who was born in Normandy, grew up in a comfortable, middle-class family with a Senegalese mother and a Guinea-Bissau-born father who studied business.
The football fan idolized Gianluigi Buffon and Manuel Neuer, and his favorite outfielder was Ronaldo Nazario. As an 11-year-old on a school trip to Brighton, he purchased his first kit, a Brighton shirt.
His football career began in the academy system of local club Le Havre, which is regarded as one of France’s top goalkeeping schools.
However, he was scheduled to be released by his club after falling behind Zacharie Boucher in the pecking order.
He won the Normandy Cup after five years at local amateur club CS Municipaux Le Havre, attracting interest from professional club AS Cherbourg.
Cherbourg president Gerard Gohel gave Mendy a second chance, starting from the third tier in France.
Aged 22, Mendy found himself unemployed after his agent had promised him a move to the Premier League.
“An agent dumped me,” Mendy told Le Parisien.
“I had full confidence in him and he dumped me. He told me that I was going to sign for an English team, but [he said] that I had to be patient. After [that] summer, I called him and he didn’t answer.
“I trained alone, waiting for an opportunity. That experience helped me see things differently.”
Reports in France also claimed that one friend of Mendy suggested that the goalkeeper could take charge of his clothes shop in Le Havre.
However, Mendy didn’t give up and joined Marseille’s reserves in pursuit of a second chance. His work paid dividends and after moving to Reims in search of game time, he joined Rennes, where he stayed for one season before signing for Chelsea.
In a conversation with Chelsea FC after joining the club, he said:
“If someone had said to me then [6 years ago] I would end up at Chelsea, I would not have bothered to look at or listen to them.
“It was really very difficult because, on one hand, you have the anger of finding yourself without a club because of the agent I was with, but also the disappointment of not being able to play at the weekend, not being able to do what I love.
“That is really hard, a year is a very long time for a footballer. Fortunately, I could always count on my family and they helped me through that and to bounce back and get to where I am today.
“When I got the message from my agent at the time, I immediately went back to the club where I trained when I was young, and I was training with the reserves there every morning. In the afternoon I’d go to the gym or with my brother to the pitch to practise shot-stopping.
“I had unemployment support at the time so I could dedicate myself totally to football, but it was incredibly difficult and my partner was expecting our first baby so the unemployment support wasn’t going to be enough for us.
“We needed something else so I started looking for other work, but then I had the opportunity to go to Marseille and I was given a trial and it was a case of giving absolutely everything to have the opportunity to join that club. Fortunately, it worked, and when it did it was like a complete release for me because I had many doubts during that time.
“It is thanks to those moments that I am where I am today and my family is also able to benefit from where I am in football.”
Today, Edouard Mendy is a Champions League winner and FIFA Best Keeper 2021.
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