Chelsea’s Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is confident he can win the Lev Yashin award for Europe’s best goalkeeper when the Ballon d’Or gala takes place on Monday night.
The 29-year-old is one of the ten goalkeepers in contention for the prize, with only Paris Saint-Germain’s European Championship-winner Gianluigi Donnarumma up for the main Ballon d’Or trophy itself.
Nonetheless, Mendy – who won the Champions League in May – believes he can become the second man to win an award introduced in 2019 by Ballon d’Or organisers.
“Of course I think I can win it,” Mendy told BBC Sport Africa.
“[If I do win it] I think it would be something I would have deserved. It’s something I have worked hard to get, so it would be a great pride given my journey.”
Unemployed seven years ago, the prospect of such a fairytale feat is propelled by Mendy’s statistics since joining Chelsea in September 2020.
He has registered 23 clean sheets in 43 Premier League games, conceding 30 goals.
Mendy has fared even better in the Champions League, conceding four times in 17 games, with 13 clean sheets recorded and a winner’s medal to boot.
In his first season, he registered a joint-record nine clean sheets, so earning him Uefa’s goalkeeper of the 2020-21 season award.
From unemployed to Chelsea
With no income, Mendy was forced to register with France’s unemployment agency after being left without a club, only for his fortunes to change when a former team-mate successfully recommended to Marseille that they trial the now Senegal international in 2015.
“A few years ago, I was unemployed, without a club and today I find myself named among the best goalkeepers in the world,” he explained.
“It’s something really positive. It shows me that I’m on the right path and in a good place to win titles and be the best in the world.”
Premier League trio Ederson (Manchester City), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa) and Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City) are also up for the award, joined by Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Samir Handanovic (Inter Milan) , Keylor Navas (PSG) and Manuel Neuer (Atletico Madrid).
Cancelled last year because of Covid, the award is named after Russia’s legendary Yashin, still the only goalkeeper to have won the Ballon d’Or itself, back in 1963.
Liverpool’s Alisson earned the accolade, created in order to recognise Europe’s best goalkeeper, in its first year.