Despite staying four years under contract at Newcastle United, Kevin Mbabu only made five appearances for the Premier League side.
Arriving in 2013 at a very young age, the right-back spent the first couple of years with the club’s reserve teams (and an unsuccessful loan at Rangers) before making his debut against Chelsea in the Premier League in September 2015.
At the end of that season, a loan to BSC Young Boys was organised, who would eventually buy him outright in 2017, helping his career to really take off.
Now at VfL Wolfsburg, the Switzerland international is enjoying his first season in the Bundesliga, who have finally returned to playing after Covid-19 originally forced the league to go on hold.
Sitting down with France Football, the 25-year-old discussed his return, but also his career to date, which includes his time at Newcastle.
Asked why it didn’t work out, he said: “When you arrive in a mythical English club at the age of 17, you have stars in your eyes. I see [Hatem] Ben Arfa, [Yohan] Cabaye or [Moussa] Sissoko, you’re like a kid. What I hadn’t realised, is that there was still a huge amount of work to be a first-team player.
“I remember that I’d had a great first game against Chelsea. I told myself ‘Woah, I’ve made it, it’ll go well’. One week later, I play against Manchester City and I injure myself. I said ‘Why me?’. My body wasn’t ready to continuously have such intensity. I took my team to become the physical beast I am today. There’s a lot of work”.
Mbabu didn’t immediately make the first-team at Wolfsburg either, having to wait until mid-October to make his Bundesliga debut, and until mid-December to start two games in a row.
He was a starter in the club’s first game back from the Covid-19 break, picking up an assist in the 2-1 away win against Augsburg.