31 March 2012 | à 00h14

Axel Ngando, the elegance in its purest form

Gambardella Cup, Stade Rennais - Brest, Sunday, 15:00. At eighteen, Axel Ngando is splitting his time between the Reserve in CFA2 and the Gambardella Cup. A busy agenda for the French-Cameroonese youngster, who know hopes to break through with the Stade Rennais. And follow on the footsteps of his illustrious uncle.

Axel Ngando, the elegance in its purest form

Axel Ngando is one of these rare players whose preciousness calls for respect. An appeal and an insisting charm that never fails to seduce the observers. Head high, all-round vision, straight chest, any pass, short or long, turns into a symphonic ballet as soon as the young Ngando (not N’Gando), is in charge, displaying refinement and elegance in each of his movements. “I’ve been told about it before. It is nice to hear but it is not all I am. I have other qualities too”, he affirms. This is why the Paris Saint-Germain spotted him so soon, eliminating heavy competition, including this of the … Stade Rennais, who had observed the recital by the young Parisian during the U11 National Cup he played with his first club: AS Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône.
From then on, football took a major importance in the life of Axel Ngando. “I’ve also been plunged in that world when I was little”, he says with enthusiasm. With a father who played football at the highest regional level (at the Stade de l’Est pavillonnais in the Division d’honneur), the Sunday afternoons were largely dedicated to the exploits of his genitor. “My uncle was a professional however”, he adds timidly, as if it wasn’t that important. The uncle, in fact, is no other than Patrick Mboma, the legendary Cameroon striker, African Ballon d’Or in 2000 and twice an African Cup of Nations winner. “I speak to him on the phone once in a while. Now I’m in Rennes, I naturally see him a bit less. But he had a good career, he experienced great things thanks to football. » Anecdotally, Mboma played for the Cameroon national team alongside François Omam-Biyik , the uncle of Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik, until the 1998 World Cup [1].

Axel Ngando pourrait, comme son oncle, vivre de sa passion.

Had he decided to continue the adventure at Paris Saint-Germain, Axel Ngando could have been following in the footsteps of his glorious elder. However, after two years of pre-training (between 2005 and 2007), he decided to join Rennes and refuse an offer from the club of his heart. A well thought decision which proves that the fourteen-year old already had both feet well on the ground. “Stade Rennais had the image of an Academy club, more than Paris Saint-Germain. Their infrastructures were superb, but looking at the larger picture, I thought that Rennes was the best solution if I wanted to make it into the professional world. » As Yacine Brahimi a few years earlier or recently Alexandre Arenate (who plays with the club’s U17), the French U19 international listened to his brain rather than his heart. “I also knew I wasn’t going in the unknown by joining the best Academy in France, he argues. All in all, it could only benefit me. I knew I could succeed if I did what I had to do in the right way. »

And he would respond so well to the expectations that, six years after his title of best player in the International U13 tournament with Paris Saint-Germain (a trophy he was offered by Jérôme Rothen and French singer Lorie), the youngster would be awarded the honorific title of best player of the Stade Rennais Academy, rewarding both his footballing qualities and his academic achievements. With a STG Baccalaureate (Sciences and Technologies of Management) in sight, Axel Ngando gathered all the conditions to obtain a trophy obtained by some other talented players trained in Rennes in the past: Jimmy Briand, Étienne Didot, Mikaël Silvestre or Sylvain Wiltord, to name the best known of them.

« The Juventus ? It was too early »

Après avoir refusé l’offre de la Juventus Turin, le jeune gaucher du Stade Rennais ne cache pas son envie de percer avec les “Rouge et Noir”.

Last spring, and as he prepared to sign a two year trainee contract with the Stade Rennais until June 2012, the Juventus Turin appeared to offer him a juicy five-year professional contract (!) to swap from the capital of Brittany to the capital of Piedmont. The young player refused categorically, it was “too early” for such a move. “In my head, he was clear since the beginning, I wanted to make it in my training club and nowhere else. Also, I did not see the point of moving abroad while I still had everything to prove in France, he remarks. I had to keep myself calm, since it was no less than the Juventus Turin. But I still have things to learn.” Lucid, the player and his entourage did not even mention the offer to the Rennes management, avoiding putting pressure on the club. A practice others had not hesitated to use in the past in order to jump the gun, like Hakim Khadrejnane, a former attacking midfielder from the 1992 generation now playing for Hellas Verona in the Serie C, the Italian third division. So far, the choices made by Ngando play in his favour.
Although he esteems he should improve « in the finishing », Axel Ngando is on the process of beating his daemons by piling up goals since the beginning of the year, especially with the U19. Another double, scored last Sunday against the Reserve of Vannes, came to confirm the new ability of the attacking midfielder, who thrives on the hope to win the next final of the Gambardella Cup. An adventure that could have finished in Le Mans, in what was a difficult day for Ngando who missed two penalties including one in regular time. “I made a technical mistake in both of them. Usually, I’m rather skilled when it comes to penalties, he admits. But this is not a question of chance, it is all work. I’ve worked since then to correct the issue. If there is one against Brest, I will take it without a problem. »

After the national title he won in the Federal U14 category, he would like to taste victory in the Gambardella Cup, and add a trophy to his personal collection. “We are getting closer to the Stade de France, so we are thinking about it more and more, he admits, not forgetting that the road remains long before taking off for the trip to Saint-Denis. We must not believe we are there too early, we will play the games one after the other.” A big year for Axel Ngando, who prepares alongside Abdoulaye Doucouré and Dimitri Foulquier for the Elite Tour towards Euro 2012, the last stage before taking part in the U19 European Championship. “IT would be good to manage a good performance in the EliteTour. It won’t be easy since we have got the Netherlands in our group [2]. »
With the objective to follow his two colleagues of the 1993 generation in obtaining a professional contract as well, Axel Ngando is patiently waiting for his turn, without getting obsessed by this concretisation. «Honnestly, I’m not focusing too much on this, he reveals. With the strong support of Jirès Kembo, who provides him with the occasional advice, he knows all the way he still has to male. “I simply continue working, and I hope it will happen very soon.” And when it happens, it will be the uncle who will follow the exploits of his nephew, perpetuating the family’s saga over another generation.


[1Against Chile, in the final group game of this World Cup, Omam-Biyik even offered the equaliser to ... Mboma.

[2As well as the Netherlands, France will face the Czech Republic and Norway.

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