UEFA Champions League winner and Super Cup contender Kingsley Coman marks UEFA’s Grassroots Week by paying tribute to a coach he first met at the age of four.
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When Kingsley Coman headed the winning goal in the UEFA Champions League final a month ago, he completed a journey that had taken him from the suburbs of Paris to the top of the European game.
The 24-year-old France international’s second-half strike was the standout moment of a reformatted Champions League, in which the final eight teams played a series of one-off knockout ties over 10 days in Lisbon.
At the time of Bayern’s previous Champions League triumph in 2013, Coman was already a prodigious talent emerging from Paris Saint-Germain’s academy – the same team beaten by the Germans in Lisbon. The gifted youngster started training regularly from the age of eight, but, asked by uefa.com to nominate his most influential grassroots football coach, Coman goes back even earlier in his life.
First real coach
“When I first started out playing in the town where I grew up, there was a coach called Nicolas Dourou,” says the winger. “I’m still in touch, he’s just like one of the family. I started out with him when I was four and he perhaps coached me when I was four, five, seven and eight.
“He often comes to watch my games at Bayern. He was the first real coach I had and we’re still really close.”
Guidance from grassroots coaches can prove pivotal in a young player’s progression, even if not everybody will eventually score the decisive goal in a European final.
“When you’re that age, they’re not so much coaches and more like teachers,” Coman expands. “[Nicolas] was the first teacher I had. There had been three generations of us; he was really close to my aunt and my family and, as I say, he was almost like another member of the family.
“He wasn’t exactly like a big brother, but it was similar to that. He was my first coach and he motivated us and, above all, taught us the real basics of the game.”
Some 20 years later, it is inspiring to see Coman remembering those early days and the impact of his first mentor. Who knows, with his decisive Champions League goal, Coman might just have inspired the generation of 2040 to pull on their boots for the first time.