In this interview Edouard Mendy reflects on the Blues’ solidity at the back, underlines the importance of team spirit at Chelsea and assesses his own development since arriving at Stamford Bridge…
It is coming up to a year since Edouard Mendy first set foot in Cobham as a new Chelsea goalkeeper. Things could scarcely have gone much better since then.
Quickly establishing himself as first choice between the posts, the Senegalese impressed with his dominance of the box and shot-stopping ability. He racked up clean sheet after clean sheet, too, none more vital than in the Champions League final in Porto.
After starting the 2021/22 league campaign with another shutout, he now has an astonishing 26 clean sheets in 46 Chelsea appearances, the best ratio (57 per cent) of any Blues keeper to have played more than 20 times for the club.
‘It’s been a fantastic year,’ agrees Edou.
‘Now, we need to keep going. We need to question everything; we need to start from scratch. What we did was good, but we need to leave that to one side and keep setting other goals, keep progressing, and keep striving to make this club better.
‘For me the most important thing is to be the best for my team,’ says Mendy of his own ambition.
‘Being the best for my club means being the best every day and being the best I can on the pitch, helping my team to win trophies. I’ve progressed every year, and I did last year too, and that’s something I want to do every year; it’s something I want all the time.
‘I strive to progress, to be the best for my team, and in particular, to keep winning trophies for this club.’
To add to the Champions League and Super Cup successes he has already enjoyed, Mendy knows a season of consistent defensive solidity is required. He knows what the key to achieving that is.
‘The defence works as a team. It is not just down to me or the defenders in front of me.
‘It is defensive teamwork that starts with the strikers and finishes with me. We see very well when we press that we are very active when we recover very high balls.
‘And, when the opponent has possession, we see that we are a difficult block to get through because the whole line moves very well and it’s very difficult to get through our block.’
Mendy is quick to praise Thomas Tuchel, too, highlighting his charisma and leadership skills as motivating and engaging. ‘He is a real leader,’ says Mendy.
The boss’s impact this year has helped cultivate a fantastic spirit in the Chelsea camp. The 29-year-old knows how significant that sense of unity can be from last season, and he is confident it can take us far again this time around.
‘The idea of a group is something that the coach has directly established,’ notes Mendy.
‘It is something that got stronger with good results. We saw that when we gave great performances. Every time we gave great performances, they were great collective performances.
‘So, that shows you that we have only succeeded as a team, and that forges closer bonds between us. On the pitch, we play for our brothers because we are a family, and we do things as a family.’