Tuesday’s clean sheet against Sevilla confirmed the short but steady start to his Chelsea career for Edouard Mendy and two days after that match, our newest goalkeeper was the subject of his first media conference at the club.
During the questioning, the 28-year-old looked back to a time when his career was not going so well and he was without a club, but first he was asked about Kepa Arrizabalaga, whom Frank Lampard confirmed Mendy is currently ahead of as number one choice between the posts after the Champions League game, although that can change with strong competition for that position in place.
‘I have a very good relationship with Kepa,’ Mendy said.
‘The group of goalkeepers we have, we are all very open, and all of us understand that the team is the most important thing here and doing what is right for the group. Our relationships are already very good.
‘We work well together and are pushing each other every day to improve ourselves and to improve each other, and we know as goalkeepers that we have to stay unified and that is how things are going at the moment.’
Also working with them is sporting and technical advisor Petr Cech, who has been registered as a player in this season’s Premier League squad, and who 16 years ago made the same journey as Mendy from Rennes to Chelsea.
‘I have been aware that Petr Cech has been watching my matches for a number of years and it is always really pleasing to hear he has been saying he liked my profile and the way I was performing,’ said the new arrival.
‘So after my season at Rennes, the offer came in from Chelsea and it is a source of great pride for me to join this club, and thanks to Petr and also Christoph [Lollichon – a current coach at Chelsea and a former one at Rennes] who were following me.
‘Here at Chelsea obviously everybody approved my signing, and now it is up to me to show that they were right to take an interest in me and to have brought me to the club.
‘To be at a club where such great goalkeepers have played is fantastic and very important to me. I am aware of the expectations that surround the goalkeeper position at Chelsea, but I am not going to put any pressure on myself and compare myself to legends here. I have only just arrived so my aim is to carry on progressing and when the coach asks me, to make sure I am there for the team and helping with their success.’
It was six years ago that the current Senegal international, who had begun his professional career at Cherbourg, found himself without a club.
‘If someone had said to me then I would end up at Chelsea, I would not have bothered to look at or listen to them,’ he acknowledged.
‘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.’