Meet Chrislain Matsima (3/3)
His favorite number is 4, his place among his siblings. He admires Sergio Ramos, who plays in the same position as him. He really likes Liverpool and the incredible atmosphere at Anfield. He thrilled by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s incredible goal with Sweden against England in 2012. And he raps with an incredible flow, as revealed to us by his friend and teammate Enzo Millot, well before his baptism by fire with the pros this summer.
This is Chrislain Matsima, central defender at AS Monaco and a product of the Academy. Impressing in the youth categories since his arrival, the native of Colombes in the Paris region was quickly spotted by the Principality club. After having made his first steps in Hauts-de-Seine at JSC Nanterre, then at Garenne-Colombes and Racing Colombes, all in the 92, Chrislain joined the training center at the age of 15, on July 31, 2017.
A class above in all categories
Two years later, he signed his first pro contract with AS Monaco, after having played for the French U16 team (8 caps) and U17 team (15 caps). Since then, he has also climbed the ranks within the club of the Rock, promoted from the U17 to the N2, of which he would even become captain last season, at only 17 years old.
“Chrislain, as soon as he arrived, we saw his very even, calm personality. He is a young player who knows where he is going. Whether in life or on the pitch. As soon as he arrived he imposed himself as a starter, showing an ability to adapt that is far above average. On the pitch, he is a natural leader, in particular in the effort he puts into duels. Very attentive, he has quickly worked on the small gaps in his reading of the game, an aspect where he sometimes lagged a little,” says Manu Dos Santos, who had him under his watch with the U17s.
A strong player mentally, and quite lively in his movement despite his large size, Chrislain is also proving to be valuable in his tackling, always technically clean. Quite calm, even reserved by nature, he does not shy away from his responsibilities and asserts himself through his performances on the pitch. It’s not really a surprise, therefore, for his former coaches to see the giant central defender (1.90m) in the squad led by Niko Kovac at a training camp in Poland.
Starting alongside Benoît Badiashile against Standard de Liège
The new coach of the Red and Whites did not hesitate to give him his chance from the start last Friday in a friendly match against Standard Liège. Playing alongside another talent trained at the club, Benoît Badiashile, with whom there are some similarities, the U18 French international (12 caps) quickly showed the confidence of an experienced player.
“When I saw the two impress with me in the U17 with comparable qualities, I directly thought of an association in the centre of defence in the future. For us trainers it is a source of pride and recognition to see that the work done with these young people helps them to be able to break through later,” Manu Dos Santos admits with great humility. This does not prevent him from tempering the expectations around them because, according to him, nothing is ever a given: “We still have to pay attention to these young people who have skipped stages. It’s good to be able to show their potential, but they have to be able to keep their feet on the ground.”
This discourse of wisdom is shared by David Bechkoura, coach of the N2 team, even if the latter highlights the seriousness of Chrislain. “He has set specific goals for himself and is very hardworking. He had a full season with me, invested himself in improving and he deserved to get the captain’s armband. He’s a boy who knows where he’s going, he is very structured in his approach, ”explains his coach.
An important part of success at the U-17 World Cup
It also took some serious schooling for the Red and White defender in order to obtain his STMG Bac in July, just as he needed character to assume a starting role at the Euros then at the U17 World Cup in Brazil in the summer of 2019. Alongside Tanguy Kouassi, who had left PSG – to join Bayern Munich – he would show a lot of control with les Bleuets, who will concede only two goals in five games, until the semifinal of the World Cup.
The generation led by Adil Aouchiche, another player trained in the capital club, would ultimately come up against Brazil, host country and future winner of the competition before finishing a very honorable third place, against the Netherlands, a result that would somewhat erase the disappointment of the previous failure, a European Championship that also stopped in the last four, and yet they showed promise.
Serious, and with a strong character … but Chrislain Matsima, also enjoys a strong friendship with his “bro” and a lifelong friend at AS Monaco and with the national team, Enzo Millot. “We started at Monaco together, our first international caps, we earned them together. He’s a person you can always count on, we know each other well, he’s like a brother to me“, he said of his fellow academy talent in episode 24 of the Academy Project.
It’s a friendship that has led them to the doorstep of the pro squad, at the dawn of a 2020-2021 season that is crucial for their future. To be continued.