Edouard Mendy: Chelsea GK’s trip from no club to London

Money was tight, his girlfriend was expecting her first child and Edouard Mendy was worried.

It was 2014 and Mendy – then 22 years old – had been without a football club for a few months. Realizing that unemployment benefits would not be enough to support his family, he started looking for jobs outside of the game that he loved.

“I really had my doubts whether I would continue,” Mendy recalled on Thursday of the deepest moment of a career.

“I’m going to take a look now,” he added, “and say that it is thanks to those moments that I am where I am today.”

Because six years later he is not only the only African goalkeeper who plays in the English Premier League. He is also considered a savior for Chelsea, one of the most prestigious clubs in the world.

“If someone had told me that six years ago when I didn’t have a club,” Mendy said with a smile, “I wouldn’t even have bothered to look at them or listen to them.”

Of the nearly $ 300 million Chelsea spent on new players prior to this season – mostly attacking talent – the $ 28 million the club paid French club Rennes for Mendy could be the smartest Be effort.

Chelsea have conceded an average of 1.5 goals per game since Frank Lampard arrived in the 2019 off-season, giving him the worst defensive record of any full-time manager at the club. And that’s largely due to the shortcomings of Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was bought for $ 92 million in 2018 as the most expensive goalkeeper in football history.

Since arriving, Mendy has taken on the role of the No. 1 goalkeeper and has been clean in both games he has played – one in the Premier League and then against Sevilla in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Talk about fixing a problem. And be an inspiration at the same time.

“I feel a responsibility,” he said, “because there are expectations with it. I have to make sure that I keep working hard, doing my best in training and games so that other goalkeepers can follow me into this league and have this opportunity. “

Mendy gets used to making the most of his opportunities.

The real bump in his journey to Stamford Bridge and the most watched league in the world came in 2014 when he left Cherbourg after the team was relegated to France’s fourth division. He hadn’t even been the goalkeeper of choice there – he spent much of his time on the bench – and he struggled to find another club that was repeatedly disappointed by an agent who Mendy didn’t find a new one in France or France The team could find the third tier from England as promised.

So Mendy returned to his hometown Le Havre and started training with his youth club, Le Havre Athletic Club. He would train with his reserve team in the morning and either go to the gym or practice shooting with his brother in a field in the afternoon.

In the meantime, he received unemployment benefits.

“A year without football is an incredibly long time,” he said, “and I had many, many doubts during that time.

“It was thanks to my family who helped me so much in those moments to keep myself strong.”

The call that changed everything came in 2015 when he was offered a test in Marseille to become the southern team’s fourth choice goalkeeper. His pregnant girlfriend stayed in Le Havre.

“When I went down there, it was about just doing what I could to get the opportunity to join this club,” said Mendy. “Thankfully it worked and when it did it was a complete relief for me.”

Although he wasn’t the first choice in Marseille, his career was back in full swing. He moved to Reims in France’s second division in 2016 and to Rennes in 2019.

After a season he had done enough to convince Chelsea technical director Petr Cech – a former player for Rennes and then for Chelsea – to bring him to England.

“Yes, I was aware that Petr Cech had been watching my games for a number of years,” Mendy said through a translator. “It is very gratifying to hear that he has observed me and said that he likes my profile and my performance.

“Now it’s up to me to repay your interest in me.”

He got off to a good start. Mendy is tall and good with the ball at his feet. He already looks like a massive improvement on the unpredictable Kepa. The bottom line is that Chelsea defenders are more comfortable with Mendy.

He said his relationship with Kepa was good.

“As goalkeepers, we know we have to stay united and united,” said Mendy, “and that’s how things are at the moment.”

Mendy will look to score three shutouts in three games when Chelsea visit Manchester United on Saturday for the standout game of the Premier League sixth round.

London Herald