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Six years ago, Edouard Mendy was without a club and without any direction.
After his deal with third-tier French outfit AS Cherbourg expired and a mooted transfer to a League One club fell through, a 23-year-old Mendy queued up in a local job centre.
Unemployed, he thought his professional career was over before it had really even started.
"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."
:flag_fr: Aged 22, Edouard Mendy was queuing at the job centre after being released by Cherbourg.- thesportsman (@TheSportsman) September 24, 2020
Today, at 28, the keeper has signed for Chelsea from Rennes for £22m.
He's come a long way! :clap:pic.twitter.com/FEKzFcO50i
He trained unpaid after returning to former club Le Havre and would eventually earn a trial at Marseille, who took a punt on him and gave him a contract to play for their B side.
Mendy played in the reserves during the 2015/16 season and secured a move to Reims, who he helped lift the Ligue 2 title in 2017/18 after playing 34 games and conceding just 24 goals.
An impressive first season in Ligue One prompted Rennes to snap up the Senegal international for £3.5 million a year ago.
In his one and only season at Roazhon Park, Mendy, cousin to Real Madrid left-back Ferland, played a key role in the club sealing automatic qualification for the Champions League for the first time in their history thanks to a third place finish in a season cut short due to COVID-19.
Mendy kept 13 clean sheets and conceded just 31 goals in 33 games - his form attracting interest from Chelsea, who have made him their seventh signing of the summer after wrapping up a £22 million move.
The 28-year-old becomes the second giant goalkeeper to make the move from Rennes to Chelsea.
Arguably Chelsea's greatest ever shotstopper, Petr Cech did exactly that in 2004 and now working as a technical and performance advisor at Stamford Bridge, he is said to have have recommended Mendy and all of his 6 ft 5 frame.
Meanwhile Christophe Lollicho, a goalkeeping scout with Chelsea, feels he has all the tools to be a success in between the sticks for Frank Lampard's side.
Speaking to Le Phoecen last year, he said: "He has reached maturity, with a fairly unusual path, and it is all the more meritorious.
"He is what I call a proactive, very influential goalkeeper who does not suffer the game.
"Reims really did a great job with him. Maybe at Marseille they could not detect the talent he had in him, but it was perhaps not the right time too.
"In any case, he's a great goalkeeper that we necessarily follow in the Premier League.
"When you are nearly 2 metres (6ft 6in), with such a ground game, such placement and initiative-taking as he has, if recruiters do not look at him, it's because they have to change jobs (laughs)."
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