Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy almost quit football at 22
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is winning his fitness battle ahead of the Champions League final.
The giant Senegalese, who stands at 6ft 6in tall, returned to first-team training on Wednesday to give his side a welcome boost before they face Manchester City on Saturday.
The £22million signing was a doubt after injuring his rib in the 2-1 defeat by Aston Villa on the final weekend of the Premier League season.
But now it appears he’s ready to feature between the sticks in Porto.
This season, Mendy has been in sensational form since his move from Rennes - in what has been a remarkable turn-around in the life of the 29-year-old stopper.
It was only seven years ago that Mendy, the cousin of Real Madrid star Ferland Mendy, was unemployed after his contract expired with French fourth tier side Cherbourg.
And after a deal with a League One club collapsed, it appeared his days as a professional footballer were over as he signed on the dole.
Mendy was just 22 when his deal with Cherbourg expired.
Wanting to take on a new challenge, he was offered contracts by other clubs.
But it was the temptation of moving across the Channel to an unknown League One side that seemed the most attractive.
The player’s former agent gave him assurances a deal was done, however Mendy soon discovered the job offer didn’t work out.
It left the promising talent club-less, unemployed and queuing at the job centre.
Away from the game for the year, Mendy was forced to consider quitting football to do something else.
He collected the dole - just to make ends meet.
“For a football player or anybody else, being unemployed is like getting slapped across the face,” Mendy told So Foot magazine.
“Repeated failures leave marks on you, and you start thinking that maybe you are not made for it.”
With his confidence severely dented, Mendy returned to the club where it all began for him as a youth player, Le Havre.
He trained religiously for a year, unpaid, until a former team-mate told him that Marseille were looking for a goalkeeper to replace reserves Julien Fabri and Brice Samba, who were sent out on loan.
Mendy scored a trial with the 1993 European Cup winners and was signed as a fourth choice keeper. -The Sun