CHELSEA goalie Edouard Mendy is winning his fitness battle ahead of the Champions League final.
The giant Senegal goalie, who stands at 6ft 6in tall, returned to first-team training on Wednesday to give his side a welcome boost before they face Manchester City on Saturday.Edouard Mendy is winning his fitness battle ahead of the Champions League final and is back in training[/caption] Mendy has enjoyed a remarkable career turn-around[/caption]
The £22million signing was a doubt after injuring his rib in the 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa on the final weekend of the season.
But now it appears he’s ready to feature between the sticks in Istanbul.
This season, Mendy has been in sensational form since his move from Rennes – in what has been a remarkable turn-around in the life of the 29-year-old stopper.
It was only seven years ago that Mendy, the cousin of Real Madrid star Ferland Mendy, was unemployed after his contract expired with French fourth tier side Cherbourg.
And after a deal with a League One club collapsed, it appeared his days as a professional footballer were over as he signed on for the dole.
ON THE SCRAP HEAP
Mendy was just 22 when his deal with Cherbourg expired.
Wanting to take on a new challenge, he was offered contracts by other clubs.
But it was the temptation of moving across the channel to an unknown League One side that seemed the most attractive.
The player’s former agent gave him assurances a deal was done, however Mendy soon discovered the job offer didn’t work out.Mendy was unemployed at 22 after being released by a fourth division French club[/caption]
It left the promising talent club-less, unemployed and queuing at the job centre.
Away from the game for the year, Mendy was forced to consider quitting football to do something else.
He collected the dole – just to make ends meet.
“For a football player or anybody else, being unemployed is like getting slapped across the face,” Mendy told So Foot magazine.
“Repeated failures leave marks on you, and you start thinking that maybe you are not made for it.”
With his confidence severely dented, Mendy returned to the club where it all began for him as a youth player, Le Havre.
He trained religiously for a year, unpaid, until a former team-mate told him that Marseille were looking for a goalkeeper to replace reserves Julien Fabri and Brice Samba, who were sent out on loan.
Mendy scored a trial with the 1993 European Cup winners and was signed as a fourth choice keeper.
There, he worked with French international Steve Mandanda and played in the B side.Standing at 6ft 6in tall, Mendy is a commanding presence in his own box[/caption]
“I reached a new level in Marseille,” he revealed.
“I trained with the pros throughout the year, which you normally would not expect as a No. 4 ‘keeper.
“It was proof that I performed well and made all the efforts required. It was a rewarding year.
“Training alongside players like Lassana Diarra, Abou Diaby… and winning duels against Steven Fletcher or Michy Batshuayi brought a lot to me.”
MAKING OF THE MAN
In search of regular playing time, Mendy moved to Ligue 2 outfit Reims in 2016.
It was time for him to finally make his breakthrough in the game.
When first-choice keeper Johann Carrasso was sent off, Mendy got his opportunity.
Seven games and three clean sheets later, a star was born.
Mendy became first-choice in 2017-18, and helped the club gain promotion to Ligue 1.
RENNES TO CHELSEA
It was only summer 2019 that Mendy signed for Rennes for a fee of £3.5million.Mendy signed for Chelsea for £22million[/caption] Chelsea legend Petr Cech reportedly recommended Mendy to the Blues[/caption] This season in England Mendy has established himself as Chelsea’s No1[/caption]
And his rise has been rapid.
He helped his new club finish in the top three in France’s top division last season.
More importantly, Rennes qualified for the Champions League thanks to his exploits.
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Commanding between the sticks, late-developer Mendy has continued to blosoom at Chelsea.
In his 31 games in the Premier League, he kept 16 clean sheets in a promising debut season.
His presence will be (literally) enormous for the Blues in Istanbul this weekend.