Not many players can make the Big Ears trophy look, if not small, then at least normal size, but Chelsea goalkeeper Édouard Mendy and his infinite wingspan is certainly one of them. Also, in related news, not many goalkeepers can keep a record number of clean sheets in a Champions League campaign.
(Also of note, two of the three goals he did concede were good enough to be among the ten goals nominated for Goal of the Tournament.)
Mendy, like most of his teammates, is joining up with his national team for a few games before some well deserved summer holidays. And while we’ve seen heart-warming receptions for Chelsea’s Champions League-winning players from their international teammates at France and Germany, just to name a couple, as well, Mendy’s welcome in Senegal was truly glorious and joyful.
He is, after all, the first Senegalese goalkeeper to play in and win the Champions League, and the first African goalkeeper to do so in this rendition of Europe’s premier club competition. (Bruce Grobbelaar, of Zimbabwe, won the “European Cup” with Liverpool back in 1984, making famous his “wobbly knees” technique in the process.)
Mendy didn’t need such flashy heroics in the final to keep yet another clean sheet against Manchester City, which is par for the course for the big man who’s been steadily excellent all season, often flying a bit under the radar simply by making all the saves we’d expect him to make (short or long), catching crosses, controlling his penalty area, not making any massive costly errors, and also proving to be quite adept at playing the ball with his feet (a requirement for all modern goalkeepers, but still worthy of note).
Mendy may be 29 already, but he got a late start to his career, and presumably has a ton of years left to give, hopefully at the same stellar level as he’s shown for us so far.
This save completed an outstanding debut #UCL campaign for #Mendy who according to my model saved #Chelsea ~5 goals more than an average top flight GK would’ve been expected to due to his shot stopping.— John Harrison (@Jhdharrison1) June 1, 2021
It would’ve been a very different night if #Sterling had scored 7 mins in! pic.twitter.com/1imNslYkZN