Edouard Mendy was affected by missing out on a Ballon d’Or nomination, although his outstanding trophy haul goes some way to making up for it.
Goalkeeper Mendy helped Senegal to win their first Africa Cup of Nations title in February, having helped Chelsea win the FIFA Club World Cup that same month.
But 2021 represented a stellar year for Mendy as he enjoyed success in his first season in England following a switch from Rennes.
He played a key role as Chelsea clinched their second Champions League title, boasting a higher save percentage (91.18) than any goalkeeper to make more than one appearance in the competition and keeping nine clean sheets in 12 outings.
Despite that, Mendy failed to make a 30-man shortlist for football’s biggest individual prize, and lost out on the Yashin Trophy – awarded to the best goalkeeper – to Italy’s Euro 2020 hero Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Mendy told Chelsea’s club media:
“There have been some incredible moments and there have been some moments that have been more difficult.
“After the Ballon d’Or, I think that even if you try to rise above it, unconsciously you are still affected by it. But also it was something new for me.
“You learn from every challenge and I’ve learned how to deal with it. These are things that I’ve experienced that have made me a better person, even if at the time it [did] affect me.
“I’ve also experienced some absolutely joyous moments with AFCON and the Champions League, the [2021 UEFA] Super Cup, winning trophies. When you win them, it becomes an addiction, when you live your life in the competition you want to be in the final to win.
“I’ve been lucky enough to experience that at club level and with my national team who won for the first time in our history. So it’s a mix of a lot of emotions but enormously positive ones that bring huge amounts of pride to my family. My reality is what every footballer dreams of.”
While the Ballon d’Or has so far evaded Mendy, he hailed the influence Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel – and the club’s sporting director, former goalkeeper Petr Cech – have had on his time in west London.
He said of Tuchel:
“We have a really good relationship with the coach, he’s always been clear with me, he’s always clear with all the players.
“He’s always explaining things, trying to make sure the messages are understood. He’s always looking to explain his decisions so there’s a lot of transparency in what he does. That’s important for the team and of course for myself too.
“We can talk about everything and nothing, but when we’re talking about what happens on the pitch it’s always a good exchange of ideas.”
Cech also made the switch from Rennes to Chelsea and went on to become the Premier League’s all-time leader for clean sheets kept as a goalkeeper (202).
Mendy added of Cech:
“Of course, he means a lot.
“He was a big factor in the fact I came to Chelsea.
“You have to always make them proud, last year I had the chance to train with Petr and that year [2020-21], he hung his boots! But I had the chance to train with him and see what a great player he was.
“Talent never dies. I was lucky enough to see him evolve and get advice from him every day. What he says is very important to me, especially from a goalkeeper who won a lot at Chelsea and is a legend of goalkeeping.”
Likewise, for more football news like this, click here.