Edouard Mendy has revealed he had “doubts over whether to carry on” after taking a year out of football in France and insisted that he is well “aware” of the pressures that come with being a Chelsea goalkeeper.
The Senegalese ‘keeper spent three seasons with the third-division French outfit before being released at the end of his contract, and spent the next 12 months contemplating his future.
He was, however, offered a lifeline by Marseille in 2015, who allowed him to spend a season in their reserves set up in a backup capacity behindFlorian Escales.
Mendy was never granted the chance to step up to the senior squad though and ended up joining Reims on a permanent deal the following year, which is where he began to build up his reputation.
The 28-year-old made 85 appearances for the club over the next three season, impressing enough to attract attention from Rennes, who signed him for £7 million ($9.16min the summer of 2019.
He went on to prove himself as one of the best bargain signings in Ligue 1’s recent history, helpingJulien Stephan’s men finish third in the French top-flight to qualify for the Champions League.
Chelsea then came calling in August amid world-record signing Kepa’s struggles for form between the sticks, forking out £22 million ($29m) to lure Mendy to Stamford Bridge fromRoazhon Park.
The Senegal No.1 has recorded two clean sheets in his first three outings for the Blues, and is expected to serve as Frank Lampard’s first choice ‘keeper for the foreseeable future, capping a remarkable rise to prominence.
Mendy says he couldn’t have got this far without the support of his family behind the scenes, having been faced with unemployment while his partner was expecting a babyin the early stages of his career.
“Back then when I got the message from my agent at the time I started to go back to the club I trained in when I was young. I was with the reserves there every morning,” he told a press conference on Thursday. “In afternoons I’d go to the gym or go with my brother to the pitch to practice my shot-stopping.
“I had unemployment support at that time so I could dedicate myself totally to football. But it was incredibly difficult and so my partner was expecting our first baby. Unemployment support wasn’t going to be enough for us. We needed something else so I started looking for other work.
“Then I had the opportunity to go to Marseille and I was given a trial there. It was just a case of giving my everything to get the opportunity to join that club. Fortunately for me it worked and when it did it was a relief for me.
“One year without football is an incredibly long time and I had many doubts during that time. But it was thanks to my family who helped so much to keep me strong. I had my doubts over whether to carry on but I look now and say it is thanks to those that I am where I am today and my family are able to benefit from where I have got to with football.”
Mendy now finds himself following in the footsteps of previous Chelsea ‘keepers like Carlo Cudicini and Petr Cech, who set new standards of excellence in the net at the start of the Roman Abramovich era.
He won’t allow himself to be weighed down by any comparisons to two former Stamford Bridge favourites though, as he added:”To be at a club where such great goalkeepers have played is very important to me.
“I am aware of the expectations surrounding the goalkeeper position at Chelsea.
“I am not going to put any pressure or compare myself to them because they are both legends here. They have played at a very, very high level for many years.
“I have only just arrived here so my aim is to carry on progressing and make sure that I am there for the team and settle.
Source : goal.com