Do you remember Gervinho ?
But what happened to the champion of LOSC, Arsenal or Roma? At 35 and all her hair, Yao Kouassi Gervais was recently transferred to Greek club Aris Thessaloniki, where he will play in the Conference League play-offs. First detail, why this nickname? A supervisor from Asec Mimosas where he started his career as a Rookie, wanted to differentiate him from one of his teammates with a similar name. ”Gervinho” meaning ”Little Gervais” in Portuguese.
Braided hair, black or elastic bandana on the head, the “27” flocked on the back, these elements will surely not be unknown to you. Known for his speed, his dribbling ability above the norm and his propensity to create chances, the striker will have had a full career, between major European teams and expatriation in the remote corners of football.
Responsibilities from an early age
“I had a difficult childhood. I come from a big family, it was frankly not easy, now my father stopped work, my mother takes care of the family, today they are proud of their son, they are happy to see what I have become, at the level where I have arrived. Today, I am happy to be able to feed my family.” said the player.
After beginnings in his native country, he became aware of the “family pressure” which surrounds him. An opportunity, surely the only one, which is offered to him. His Abidjan club has a partnership in Belgium, the Beveren club. With the destiny of a family in his hands, he joined the institution at only 17 years old, in 2004.
First blow, when he left the U19s to join the pro squad, the club is relegated in the Belgian second division following the 2006-2007 season. Therefore, he left Belgium to join France and the Le Mans club.
Ligue 1 discovers a phenomenon
Tenacious and ambitious, he arrived in Sarthe and discovered Ligue 1 at the age of 20. Landscapes at the antipodes of what he knew, an arrival on tiptoe, he had to make his way into a mid-table club with his sizes of the time: Modibo Maïga, Tulio de Melo, Le Tallec or Daisuke Matsui.
4 left wingers, 1 place, and that’s Rudi Garcia which gives it the role of indisputable. A second opportunity, a coincidence? The squad has 14 players under 21 out of a squad of 31 players. Admittedly, “football has changed”, but at the time, it was rare to start players so young. The club is holding its own, it’s almost a “semi-feat” (16th the following season), the other surely resides in Gervinho’s feet.
In two seasons, his swaying dribbling has already attracted the attention of several European clubs, and of his selection. In 2007, he made his debut in the Ivorian selection in a friendly match against Angola. In 2008, he was captain of the Ivorian team which participated in the Olympic Games taking place in Beijing. With the Mucistes, he played 67 games, scored 13 goals and delivered 11 assists in a team in great difficulty.
This dazzling breakthrough caught the eye of big clubs like Barcelona, Marseilles and Arsenal. He then admits to having the opportunity to play in the Premier League, but he still has two years to run on his current contract. “Currently, I am only focused on the future of the club” […] “Interest from big European teams? I still have to improve. “It’s very flattering to hear his name associated with big teams. However, to improve, I just have to play very often. “We’ll see at the end of the season. But I’m not attracted to joining a big club just for fun.”
His maturity impresses, his spirit of work and rigor will open the doors to him of a great prize list…
“The fangs” among the Mastiffs?
And now Garcia jumps at the chance to find him at the end of his contract! The agreement between the two men is an idyll.
In two campaigns, he won a title in the Coupe de France, a title of Champion of France, and was voted best player of the year.
With the national team, he flies: two Ivorian player of the year trophies ! At 25, the experience gained gives him the peace of mind to best select the club where he is expected to become one of the best players in European football.
Top 10 worst Premier League debuts
Gervinho was doing well in his first minutes at Arsenal at the start of the 2011-2012 season. His meeting with the “bad boy” will rank him in the “Top 10” of the worst Premier League debuts according to the ‘daily mail’.
The striker had bombed forward and caused problems for the Newcastle defence. After getting several free-kicks during the game, Gervinho found himself on the ground once again and it’s safe to say that Barton was unimpressed.
The controversial Newcastle midfielder felt that Gervinho had dived and then shot him by the scruff of the neck. The striker made the decision to punch Barton in the face and was shown a red card direct. He had however declared in 2008: “I have to continue to work and Arsenal will open the door for me. Playing for them will be the best day of my life and I will do everything for it”. Good …
After an interesting first season across the Channel, he will suffer a slow decompression during the second season during which Arsene Wenger will use it sparingly. “ What did I learn at Arsenal? Honestly, not much. It’s hard to learn anything when you’re permanently on the substitutes’ bench. I left the Gunners because I was not playing enough” he said at the end of his term. For his part, Arsene Wenger justified his decision to sell him by saying that he lacked confidence, especially at home.
The problem is that Gervinho’s main qualities were based on his creativity and his dribbling instinct, and to achieve that, you need a good dose of trust.
Dissatisfied, he joined AS Roma in August 2013 after a mediocre record at Arsenal: 64 games, 11 goals and 9 assists
And finally, the course remains more honorable. Sharper, he looked much better than before. He was overwhelmingly one of the eleven starters, even and when he left the Italian capital in 2016, he had scored 17 goals in 71 appearances.
Exotic destination to shed light on African football
At 30, football is no longer the same. More wisdom, a vision to bring, Gervinho takes on the role of ambassador to China under the colors of Hebei FC. A future idea, that to integrate more African players in this championship promising and financially juicy, as evidenced by his annual salary of 18 million euros.
From 2007 until the arrival of Gervinho, they are 117 to have taken the plunge and joined the Chinese championship. Among these hundred Africans, Didier Drogba, Seydou Keïta or Frédéric Kanouté, were the precursors. “When China wakes up…the world will tremble,” Napoleon is said to have prophesied. However, in 2022, Saudi Arabia seems to be taking over.
“I have good memories of my time in China. It was a great experience for me. I learned a lot. I hope that Chinese football will continue to evolve, that they will have the chance to take on other players to develop the championship. We did our part of the job by bringing what we had to bring to Chinese football. It’s a country that has also helped me a lot in other circumstances, I will always wish it well. better.” Not so sure that Mubarak Wakaso and Cherif Ndiaye evokes something for you…
4 seasons go by and the impression of playing with the youngest on the half-court gradually wears him down… Backtracking, returning to Italy, to Parma : less money, more sport!
3 seasons go by and the impression of playing with professionals gradually tires him! Reverse gear, return to a (semi) exotic country, to Trabzonspor : more money, more kebab?
Wound healed, demigod seasoned?
At 35, the ex-winger of Le Mans and Lille comes out of a season ruined by rupture of the cruciate ligaments of one knee. While many could have quit at that age, the Ivorian takes meticulous care while his club Trabzonspor wins the title of Turkish champion.
In Greece since the beginning of July, Gervinho will discover a seventh European championship with Aris Thessaloniki. A godsend for the club which signs a player for free for two seasons, carrying with him a good “fan-base” and 7 trophies !
A last family wish persists, the little brother, Fonsinho, would dream of playing with the big one: “The most important thing is to make my name, try to integrate a club in Europe and then I know it will go very quickly […]We haven’t talked about it yet, but it’s my dream to be able to play with my big brother, before he retires.