After reaching 50 Premier League appearances, Edouard Mendy can look back on his first half-century at the Blues with pride and fondness.
The goalkeeper had a phenomenal 2021, pivotal in our Champions League success, recording nine clean sheets, the competition’s record for a debutant, before starting the current season with the same consistency and quality that has epitomised his Chelsea career to date.
‘I have had a lot of moments to remember in this incredible year but I think my first league game against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge was my favourite,’ Mendy said, smiling.
‘For me it was the first time I have seen the stadium so to play there, even without the fans, I could feel the atmosphere, the energy and it was an incredible moment for me.
‘Our first game this year, with the fans, was also incredible, it was a superb win with an incredible atmosphere.’
Undoubtedly Mendy’s best performance so far this season came in mid-October in our 1-0 win at Brentford. After Ben Chilwell opened the scoring, the Bees came on strong in the second half and fired in 15 of their 17 match shots, seven of which tested Mendy.
‘I have never lived in this kind of moment in my career,' he recalled. 'Brentford was really hard for 30 minutes and earlier in the game it was a little bit quiet for me. ‘For 30 minutes it was a lot of big pressure and to concede situation after situation was hard.
‘It was the first game after the international break and we know how important this game was to win after the break so there was lot of pressure and I was happy because I helped the team and it was a good moment.’
Mendy has 24 clean sheets in his first 50 Premier League appearances, seven of which came in our opening 10 Premier League matches this term. After conceding a penalty at West Ham, Thomas Tuchel suggested he had perhaps lost a bit of confidence in recent weeks.
‘I know why he said that. We discussed this and I was agreeing with what he said to me, the explication was good, and I agreed with him. I think it is the period, we know how tough it is to play in England. The games come every few days and sometimes it is difficult both physically and mentally.
‘So I think the game against West Ham was difficult about the mentality and the physicality. Yes, it can happen, and we know it can happen as a player so we just have to be ready to bounce back, and this is what I did.’
The 29-year-old has earnt his chance at Chelsea through hard work and determination. The Senegalese international was without a club at the age of 22 and was given a chance at Ligue 1 club Marseille to be their fourth-choice goalkeeper.
Speaking of his rise to Champions League and Super Cup glory, Mendy modestly spoke of his attributes and personality traits as contributing factors.
‘To keep working hard and believe in yourself. To not give up and, yes, it is just about work and belief. I think if you have an opportunity you have to take it and hold it.
‘It was a tough moment but I was not alone. I was with my family and I was really lucky to have them around me. They helped me a lot to bounce back and to find a way to be the man I am today.
‘I am someone who doesn’t give up. I always believe in myself and I give myself an opportunity to be ready when a club called me, then Marseille called and I was ready.
‘I have a good body to be a goalkeeper because I am tall and flexible. I am not slow as a keeper so I have good attributes, so I just needed to work in the academy in Le Havre which is the best academy in France.’
Chelsea technical advisor Petr Cech was key in Mendy arriving at Stamford Bridge. On Cech's influence, he spoke of his appreciation for the Blues legend’s faith and trust.
‘A big importance. I think he met Christophe Lollichon, spoke and then they followed me for a long time. When they [Chelsea] wanted a new goalkeeper they thought about me straight away so they called me whilst I was at Rennes.
‘With my journey to play for Chelsea it was like a dream so when they called I couldn’t believe it and this was true. I had to do my best to show to Petr and Cristophe my best.’