Edouard Mendy: “we will go to the World Cup with a lot of humility but also a lot of determination”

Edouard Mendy was in Cergy on Tuesday to receive the honorary prize awarded by the Association of Professional Goalkeepers’ Coaches on the occasion of its Bruno Martini Awards. The last goalkeeper of Chelsea and Senegal, winner of the Champions League for a few more days, took the opportunity to talk about the role of goalkeeper, not always highlighted to its true value according to him, but also the Lions of Teranga with whom he will go to the World Cup at the end of the year.

He was the expected star. Despite the delay caused by traffic jams in Paris, “world champion of traffic jams” he apologized, Edouard Mendy (30) finally arrived in Cergy (Val-d’Oise), welcomed by a crowd of children from the local club (Cergy-Pontoise FC) delighted to see their idol. Smiling and accessible, the Chelsea goalkeeper did not make the trip for nothing. Invited by the young Association of Professional Goalkeepers’ Coaches* (AEGB) chaired by Christophe Revel (LOSC) and co-chaired by Christophe Lollichon (now ex-Chelsea), the Senegalese international took part in the first Bruno Martini Trophy ceremony, rewarding the best goalkeepers in Ligue 1, Ligue 2 and D1 for women. After the opening of the evening by Marie Martini, the widow of the former goalkeeper of Les Bleus who died in October 2020 and is considered the father of the specific training of the position of goalkeeper in France, Mendy was able to receive the honorary award from the hands of the jury, made up of technicians of the position. The opportunity for him to talk about this role of goalkeeper so special, and then to comment on his news and his season.

Foot Mercato: Why is this ceremony highlighting goalkeepers important?

Edouard Mendy: There are coaches who have meant a lot to me (Christophe Lollichon) and then there are goalkeepers here who I have already played against or who I have seen play when I was younger, like Steeve Elana, Ludovic Butelle, Gregory Malicki. These are goalkeepers who have marked French soccer. In this kind of event which did not exist at all in France, and very few existing in the world, as a goalkeeper, we want to participate. This ceremony marked under the supervision of Bruno Martini, it is something very positive for the position and also for people to realize that we also take initiatives and we do things to put us in the light a little more.

FM: After being crowned best goalkeeper of the season by UEFA last season and above all winning the best goalkeeper of the year award from FIFA, what does this award from the goalkeeper coaches represent?

EM: We had never won this trophy. Everyone knows Senegal as a country that produces a lot of talent but was unable to achieve a title. We had the generation, the right mix of experience, talent and youth. All this mixed with a very good coach who has done great things with this selection for years now. It’s a continuous work. What the coach and his staff have done is simply exceptional. In Africa, it must be emphasized. Today we won the African Cup and I think it was a competition where there was the least amount of debate. We were the best team in the tournament. In addition, we started with 10 cases of Covid. It took us three games to get everyone back. And from the eighth game to the final, I don’t think there was any debate. We came out of this trophy stronger but it will not give us wings. We continue to be Senegal and to make the Senegalese people proud. We will go there (to the World Cup) with a lot of humility but also a lot of determination.

“The stadium was full at noon when we were playing at 5:30 pm” (about the second leg playoff against Egypt)

FM: What will be the objective of Senegal at the World Cup?

EM: It’s like the CAN: to go as far as possible and make the Senegalese proud. Afterwards, we are not the kind of people who say we want this or we want that. We show it on the field.

FM: Apart from the victory at the CAN, what was the strongest moment you experienced with the Senegalese team?

EM: I think it’s the World Cup play-off against Egypt because what happened in the day is absolutely unimaginable. We arrived the day before from Egypt. We were a little disappointed because we had lost 1-0 there. The VAR didn’t work, so we felt a bit robbed. We were very disappointed and very down but in our misfortune, there was a happiness, it is that there was a return match. We arrived at the airport at 9am because we had a night flight. And there, there are maybe a thousand people. It recharges us immediately, we say to ourselves that something huge is happening because there are many indicators that we were eliminated. In addition, the European champion had just been eliminated (Italy, eliminated by Northern Macedonia, editor’s note) so people thought that the African champion would be eliminated too. So, at the airport, we told ourselves that the country was counting on us, that something exceptional was going to happen. We were lucky to have a new stadium and to play our first game there. It was the opening game and as soon as they opened the doors at 11am, the stadium was full at noon and we were playing at 5:30pm! We were supposed to be 2 kilometers from the stadium in our hotel but we could hear people singing. There, we said to ourselves that something incredible was happening. I remember that, when we arrive in the locker room, there are often players who go to reconnoiter the field. But there, some didn’t go because it was so noisy! Then the pressure was immense! We have the chance to score after 4 minutes and then I feel that the stadium will explode. And to qualify in the new stadium after the first game where we were a bit robbed, it required a mental strength from everyone but it was exceptional. This year in the national team for me is this memory, more than the final of the African Cup.

*The Association of Professional Goalkeeper Coaches (AEGB) was created at the beginning of 2021 by Christophe Revel (goalkeeper coach at LOSC) and Christophe Lollichon (former goalkeeper coach at Rennes and Chelsea in particular) to create a laboratory of ideas. Its aim is to pool the experiences and share the content of its 70 members (out of 130 professional goalkeeper coaches in France) through seminars, as was the case in Cergy on May 24 and 25, and various exchange platforms. Initially intended for professionals in the profession, the AEGB’s ambition is to eventually welcome amateur goalkeeper coaches and enthusiasts with a view to performance. During this ceremony of the Bruno Martini Trophies, a tribute to the former goalkeeper of Auxerre, Montpellier and Nancy, who created the specific goalkeeper trainer training within the National Technical Direction in 2002, were also present goalkeepers such as Benoît Costil (Bordeaux), Vincent Demarconnay (Paris FC) or Ludovic Butelle (Red Star), as well as trainers of the position. In addition to Lollichon and Revel, Franck Raviot (French men’s team) and Gilles Fouache (French women’s team) honored the event with their presence, as did former national coach and current president of UNECATEF (the French coaches’ union) Raymond Domenech.

Winners of this 2022 edition :

Ligue 2 Revelation: Lucas Chevalier (Valenciennes, on loan from LOSC)

Best goalkeeper in Ligue 2: Benjamin Leroy (Ajaccio)

D1 Women’s Revelation: Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC)

Best female goalkeeper in D1 : Christiane Endler (OL)

Ligue 1 revelation: Gauthier Gallon (ESTAC)

Best goalkeeper in Ligue 1: Matz Sels (Strasbourg)

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