Champions League: Memphis Depay, faith pegged to the bodyMarch 13, 2019
Memphis Depay is an elusive boy. Outside the field, he distilled the interviews in a drip. The Dutch striker does not need the media because he is the narrator of his life on social networks: in turn football star, rapper or preacher.
In the exercise of his art, the star of Olympique Lyonnais also loves the feet. He plays in a kind of permanent improvisation, often favors the unexpected technical gesture, brilliant or completely failed. Pushing unpredictability to its climax, it sometimes gives the impression of surprising itself.
In the eighth-final first leg of the Champions League, three weeks ago, the young man of 25 years, little inspired against the great Barça, disappointed all the hopes of Lyon who focused on his bubbling talent in the absence of Nabil Fekir, suspended. But we forgive many talented people and Memphis will still carry the hopes of exploit for the OL for the return match, Wednesday, February 13 at Camp Nou.
The player has the character to assume these expectations. Born in a modest environment, a Dutch mother and a Ghanaian father, who abandoned him at the age of 4, the kid has forged a carapace able to allow him to survive. One of his first coaches at Sparta Rotterdam, Kevin Valkenburg, portrays him as a child "Impossible to train with a difficult family situation and who did not know what to behave meant. "
In Eindhoven, the turbulent teenager discovers the other passion of his life, rap. "Rap took a lot of time. He could not be both the best footballer and the best rapper, explains his first coach at PSV, Fred Rutten.
A tattooed lion in the back
In the summer of 2017, the principal concerned explained, in one of his rare interviews granted to the magazine of L'Equipe, his famous dorsal tattoo, a lion's head, made before his arrival in Lyon, during his stint at Manchester United.
"In total, it took about twenty-four hours to complete it. I really like the result. It's a symbol: the lion is the king of the jungle, and I feel like I've spent my youth in a jungle. I grew up in a complicated environment and to get out of it, I always had to fight battles, he confides. This tattoo shows what wood I am made of: I have a lion's heart. Now that I play in Lyon, the story is even more beautiful. "
When others question his involvement and his ability to become the great player announced, Memphis, he never doubts. And his failure in England, where he exiled at age 21, did not undermine his indestructible confidence.
In 2015, he came out of an exceptional season with PSV Eindhoven – top scorer with 22 goals and champion of the Netherlands. Just arrived at the Red Devils, the Dutch is a time the third best seller of jerseys in the world, behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Comparisons then flourish with the fivefold Portuguese Golden Ball, revealed to Manchester United. Dutch scout of the English club, Ed van Stijn thus described his compatriot before participating in his recruitment: "If you compare him to the Cristiano Ronaldo of his age, then we can say that Depay has more strings to his bow. "
Four years later, the career of the Batavian still draws a roller coaster between shots of brilliance that amaze the Ligue 1 and its ordinary, but also some passages on the bench supposedly remotiver. From his signature in France in January 2017, his first few months are just right (17 games for 5 goals and 7 assists).
For his first full season, in 2017-2018, he still begins to show some irregularity before removing the handbrake and almost alone his club to a third place qualifying for the Champions League with 19 goals and 9 assists. His goal against Marseille shows that he also knows how to pay for himself (or at least his brow bone) for the good of his team.
This season, his success in front of goal flees him. He does not appreciate his setting on the bench against Angers in October 2018: "I do not always feel like a respected player, I do the job every time and I'm mentally strong. I have to accept the coach's decisions but I deserve better than that. I should play every game. "
In 2019, Memphis found colors with 5 goals and 8 assists, but his franchise plays him tricks again. Always this gap between the judgment of others and his on himself. A short interview at the Dutch magazine Helden is worth anathema to him for " lack of respect " towards his club.
The incriminated remarks are repeated everywhere: "I would like to be transferred to a big club this summer. Lyon is a big club, but not one of the top five in Europe. I want to go to a club like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester City, PSG or Bayern Munich. " The footballer has not tattooed on his chest "Dream Chaser" ("Dream hunter") by chance.
But in the end, Memphis is never as strong as in adversity. Her favorite goal celebration speaks for itself, this famous gesture where it closes both ears in response to critics, "finally that noise," as he explains on Twitter: "Block out the noise. "
In the derby against Saint-Etienne, he responds tac d tac, always on social networks, to a banner of the ultras Etienne in reference to his difficult childhood ("Memphis, five million followers but still no father"): "I know they love me in secret. I also know that they are crazy about not having a player of the same quality as me. "
His online activity is overflowing and often disconcerting. In November 2018, he had celebrated his five million followers on Instagram with an anthology freestyle, dressed in a toreador jacket and cigar in the beak against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. More recently, he has presented pell-mell his two new Dobermans, Drako and Kleo, filmed himself being mowed his skull or placed a Bible in his hand next to the Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourviere, on the heights of Lyon.
Recently, he has also improvised amateur preacher. On his initiative, OL Protestant players such as Burkinabé Bertrand Traoré or Brazilians Rafael, Marcelo and Marçal sometimes meet before games to read the Bible and pray.
On Twitter, sermons accompany the slightest jolt of his career. "In the midst of a storm like this, people are lost and worried but I put my worries in the hands of God because he knows what he is doing. " Whether in God or in himself, Memphis is one of those who need to believe. Will her fervor be rewarded at Camp Nou?
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