Written by kirsikka
Yann Kermorgant’s football career might never have happened. Aged fourteen he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer and that took four years away from his development. After winning that battle he then defied the odds and his doctor’s predictions to finally break into the ranks of professional football.
When he signed for AFC Bournemouth on 31st January 2014, we were 14th in the Championship and still finding our feet at that level. When he left on 20th January 2016 we were 15th in the Premier League and the story of the club had been changed forever.
He scored 27 goals and made 14 assists in 69 appearances for the Cherries, notching a goal at the rate of more than one every 81 minutes. More than just the stats though, he was absolutely instrumental in our Championship winning season. A powerhouse in the air that made you want to see crosses pumped into him until you saw his genius when he had the ball at his feet. He had that certain je ne sais quoi that could get a whole stadium standing. It left you wanting the ball to be crossed to his head and passed to his feet at the same time!
Hugely popular with the fans during his stint at Dean Court, equally so almost everywhere he played, his is a name that will go down in club folklore.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Older fans may still wax lyrical about Phil Boyer and what he did alongside Ted MacDougall. I no longer feel even the slightest tinge of jealousy at not having been born to have watched them in action. Forevermore I will be able to see your Phil and raise you with Yann.
=== PRE-AFCB ===
You went through an incredibly tough experience as a youngster before your career began. How do you think it impacted your subsequent approach to life as a footballer?
“I would say it impacted me in both ways. I mean positively and negatively.
“Positively because I know where I come from and that life can be short. I had to work even harder than others to get back to fitness and climb the stairs one by one to become a professional footballer so that experience taught me to never give up and always believe it’s possible…
“The negative side is that I became professional at almost 24 already and I still needed time to prove myself at this level. I felt at my best at almost 30 years old so I will never know where I could have gone if I had been a professional footballer at 18 for example… but I am happy because I know where I come from and that helps me to keep one’s feet firmly on the ground and anyway I will never know so no point to think too much about it!
As a player, you saw things on the pitch that other players simply wouldn’t have done. You had an intelligence to your play that, to us fans, it feels like you can’t teach. At what age did you realise that more than just being exceptional at football you also had a footballing brain that stood you apart even from other exceptional players?
“That’s a difficult question to answer with such compliments!
“I don’t know, I think players who feel the game have it naturally so maybe I am lucky to have that feeling I would say! I always try to anticipate the game to know exactly what I will do if I receive the ball and if possible try to do something unthinkable.
My note: Something unthinkable in action –
Why did you initially decide to come to England to play?
“That was a dream to play in England with all the famous stadiums and the attendance at the games is much better than in France. I believe every footballer’s dream is to play one day in England if they have the chance. Personally I was close to turning 30 so wanted to play in French Ligue 1 or attempt to establish myself in England… it didn’t happen for me in Ligue 1 because of a late injury at the end of the season so I decided to go to England for a new adventure!
There’s a famous YouTube song that was posted about your time at Leicester City. How did that impact you when it went viral?
“The end of that season was a bit crazy because I had fought so hard during the season (came on my own training on days off) to get a chance but the squad did nothing to integrate me and worse they did the opposite…
“I felt it was a bit harsh and too easy to say we lost because of my penalty miss! My confidence was really low and I was asked to take part in such a crucial penalty shootout so when I missed I felt “That’s it, it’s gonna be only my fault” and that song just summarised perfectly the situation. Judged without having a real chance to show my qualities, I was the perfect scapegoat! That season I started only one game at home, the last one when there was no pressure and I remember I did well scoring one goal and being the man of the match but for nothing. I was back on the bench for the first leg of the play offs against Cardiff at home even though the other striker was banned for that game… just showed the lack of confidence the manager had in me…
Despite that, the song was good to be honest even if really aggressive towards me but considering he wrote it in such a period of time that was impressive and showed how much he hated me… so that song hurt me because I felt it was unfair but at the end it made me feel even stronger mentally. I had my revenge on the pitch in a few games afterwards with Charlton against Leicester. If I remember we won three times and I scored one in each game …
My note: Checking the records after receiving Yann’s answer and he’s correct, Charlton won all three matches he played for them against Leicester. Each game finished 2-1 and he scored one goal in each.
You were hugely popular with the fans at Charlton during your stay there but they’ve been through a rocky few years since you left. What message would you send to them?
“I am so sad to hear what’s happening at Charlton. I love so much the club and the fans there that I would love them to get a proper owner to manage the club but the reality is that after the disaster Duchatelet they seem to have even bigger problems now after the sale…
It’s such a shame for a club as nice as Charlton. I hope the future for the club will be bright but it doesn’t look like it, unfortunately.
My note: Yann speaks about the AFC Bournemouth and Charlton fans after his first match back at The Valley after joining the Cherries –
Part Two will be online on Monday 11th May at 7am.