Portrait 08 February 2020, 17:00

Youssouf Fofana, the revenge

Youssouf Fofana, the revenge
After two and a half years in Alsace, Youssouf Fofana headed for the Rock to continue his young career in the elite. From his difficulties as a youth to winning the Coupe de la Ligue with Strasbourg a year ago, the new Monaco man has come a long way.

Two weeks after his 21st birthday, Youssouf Fofana gave himself a nice birthday present by joining AS Monaco to wear the red and white jersey. For this young player who arrived from RC Strasbourg on January 29, AS Monaco is the logical continuation of a career which is beginning to take shape. He was born in Paris in 1999 and started kicking a ball at the age of five at the club in his neighborhood, l’Espérance Paris XIX. Until his 14th birthday, he worked to build himself a career as a footballer alongside his friend Moussa Diaby, now at Bayer Leverkusen. In 2013, like many young talents in the Paris area, Youssouf joined INF Clairefontaine to perfect his training. But things did not go as planned and he did not sign with the training center after the two seasons. “I wasn’t physically good enough, he recalls, but I know it’s my fault. I don’t blame it on the demandsof the clubs.”

A step back to move forward

Not signing was a hard blow … The young Ile-de-France native then returned to the amateur ranks and played three seasons with JA Drancy, first in the U17 DHR, then in U19 DH. While many players of this age had already given up their professional ambitions, Youssouf Fofana believed in his luck. And he was right: in 2017, Racing Club de Strasbourg came to pick him up in Île-de-France and gave him a fresh chance. He played a season with the reserve team at 18 and became a talked-about player at the club.

After the amateur leagues, the elite

His tireless profile in a box-to-box midfielder appealed to Thierry Laurey’s staff, to the point that the Alsatian manager gave him his first minutes in Ligue 1 on August 24, 2018, away to Lyon. Two months later, he made his first start in a Coupe de la Ligue match against Lille and scored his first goal. Very quickly, Youssouf Fofana made his place in the Strasbourg eleven and took part in 22 matches in all competitions. He opened his goal tally in Ligue 1 in January 2019 against … AS Monaco at Louis-II. He was one of the major players in Strasbourg’s 2019 Coupe de la Ligue victory but did not feature in the final in Lille.

Youssouf Fofana, who had been first called up for the French team at U19 level, remains a part of his country’s youth teams today. Last March, he even wore armband for Les Bleuets against the United States, and punched his ticket for the U20 world championship in Poland alongside Monegasques Nabil Alioui and Moussa Sylla. He scored his first international goal against Saudi Arabia. Last November, he was called up for the first time by Sylvain Ripoll to the French U-21 team.

Youssouf Fofana, a second time for the name

On January 29, he signed for four and a half seasons with AS Monaco. On the Rock, the young midfielder will have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of his damous namesake, the Ivorian Youssouf Fofana who played in the Principality from 1985 to 1993. “Le Diamant Noir” won the league in 1988 and the Coupe de France in 1991 and scored 35 goals in 195 games while wearing red and white. His namesake is definitely a good source of inspiration for him, the current Fofana having already shone since his arrival, including two assists in as many matches against Nîmes and Angers.

Rise. Risk. Repeat.