Swapping Metz in France for Newcastle United in 2013 just before his 17th birthday, Olivier Kemen was living the dream.
Wanting to become a professional with the French club, the midfielder eventually snubbed it in favour of trying his luck abroad, where he spent two seasons with the Magpies’ U23s.
It didn’t really go to plan, as he was sold in 2015 to Lyon for a very small profit, a team he stayed with until last summer when he made the switch to Chamois Niortais in Ligue 2 on a free transfer.
Now established and playing regularly, the 24-year-old looked back on his early decisions in a long interview with LFP, where he was asked about his time at Newcastle.
He said: “I wanted to sign professionally at Metz, the board were aware, but they took their time. I was very attached to the club, the town. When a few English clubs came forward, Metz reacted, but too late. In the end, I sign for six years at Newcastle at the age of 16. There, training was very intense and very physical. I progressed rapidly, learned to be tougher, to go forward quicker…
“The first time I was called up in the group, I was 17 and we were playing Chelsea. Then, I sat on the bench of pretty much every club in the Premier League, but never came on. In England, there’s a real notion of patience for youngsters. I lacked that. The club counted on me, but I wanted to be valued more, play games. I wanted everything straight away because I felt capable of doing it”.
Regretting his decision to leave for Lyon, the midfielder didn’t really fare any better with the Ligue 1 side, playing just four times for the first team during his four years there.
He then had two loan spells with Gazélec Ajaccio, before eventually moving to his current club.
At 24, there’s still plenty of time to return to clubs like Newcastle, but he’ll just have to do it the hard way.