Football today Talk Us Through: Edo Kayembe

Mohamed Shalaby - | Sports

In my native Democratic Republic of the Congo, I began playing football when I was very young, but it was never an easy road. It was challenging because my family preferred that I attend school rather than play football. Football was my first priority, but I also wanted to earn a solid education.

However, I did get to see some football. Ronaldinho used to be my favorite player, and I used to like watching him. I used to occasionally watch football at the movies since they would always have the finest Champions League games on.

Around the age of 14 or 15, as I grew older, football once again captured my interest. I've always thought that I would return and play football tomorrow if someone punished me for playing today. That is how devoted I was to the game.

In particular, my father encouraged me to finish my education, thus I began my studies to become an electrician. I won't be helping you with anything involving electricity anymore!

I was young, and it was hard to decide to leave Africa, but I was desperate to play football.

It's no secret that I enjoy representing my nation. That was one of my childhood dreams, so it's incredible that it's come true now.

When some Anderlecht scouts were in Congo one day, they came to see my squad play. Afterwards, they approached me and inquired about visiting Europe. They wanted me to fly straight to Belgium to sign the deal because they thought I was that good. After leaving with my mother's OK, I signed shortly after.

Having to part from my friends and family was really tough. Actually, I had never left my country before that journey to Belgium, but it was the life I had chosen.

I was motivated to play as a winger by players like Ronaldinho, but Emilio Ferrera, one of my junior coaches, advised me to try playing in midfield because we had a few injuries when I got to Anderlecht. He informed me after the game that I played well and that I could make a career out this if I continued to put in the necessary effort. I answered that I dislike defending people! Emilio clarified that I had performed well on defense and that I might grow to enjoy it.

I got to play football with the first team at Anderlecht, and I had a great time. Anderlecht urged me to have patience while I wanted to play more. And I was, too, but I also realized that it would probably be preferable to search for regular playing time. Upon taking over as manager, Vincent Kompany expressed his preference for me to go on loan; but, I want a permanent change of direction.

Then I relocated to Eupen, and I loved life there. It was really chilly, but I played a lot—I even made an appearance in the Europa League. Within thirty seconds, the weather could change! After I played well for Eupen, my agent informed me in June 2021 that Watford was considering signing me. Regretfully, Eupen refused to let me leave at that particular moment.

Like in Anderlecht, I waited patiently and gave it everything I had for the six months leading up to the January transfer window—fighting, playing, and everything. Thankfully, Watford expressed interest again, and everyone agreed that we could complete the transfer.

I owe Eupen a great deal for allowing me to further my profession. It felt special to know that I will be playing in the Premier League. I dreamed about it. I had my eye on that league, but you never know what the future holds for your career.

Although my first six months were sadly rather challenging, I gained a lot of knowledge as a football player during that period. The game here is different, and at the time we played against some of the finest teams in the world. That's a pretty good level. Long-term, that experience has been beneficial to me.

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Mohamed Shalaby
Mohamed Shalaby
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