“Blaugrana” in the service of the Blues
It’s the story of a group of friends who grew up together and play in Barcelona, the best club in the world. Dika Mem, Melvin Richardson and Ludovic Fabregas, who belong to the “golden generation” of French handball – footballers born in 1995-1997, are friends in life and partners in the field. On Sunday, January 22, they will find familiar faces at the club: France will face Spain in the final game of the main stage of the World Cup, which is held in Sweden and Poland until January 29.
The two qualifiers, who have already qualified for the 1/4 finals and have faced each other many times in international competitions, will fight for the first place in group 1. Dika Mem, who lost the last four games due to abdominal contracture, will return to the tournament. Sunday courts with the Blues.
The connection of the three Blaugranas is one of the strengths of the French team. “We have a great relationship. The fact of developing all year at the same club allowed us to develop automaticity, no doubtLudovic Fabregas agrees. We discovered the French team together in the youth category. Our success rewards the training work done in France and especially the important role of the federation. »
Together, they have already won the most prestigious titles: Olympic gold with the French team in Tokyo in 2021 and the last two Champions Leagues with FC Barcelona (arriving in 2021, Melvyn Richardson “only” did not win the 2022 edition) .
As in the Alexandre Dumas novel, the three Musketeers are actually four. Slightly older (age 30), full-back Timothey N’Guessan should have been selected for the World Cup, but he broke his hand against Nantes on December 15. “It’s a shame, we’re great friends with Tim, Dika and Ludo,” Melvyn Richardson says:
“When we were young, our ambition was to play in the big leagues. So Barcelona, with its pleasant climate, sea, Spanish culture… it’s a dream! »
The latest addition to the squad, the son of Jackson Richardson, a maverick playmaker for the Specialists, crossed the Pyrenees in 2021 from Montpellier, the club he won the Champions League with in 2018, alongside another promising youngster, seventeen years after his father. named… Ludovic Fabregas.
However, at the end of the 2022-2023 season, the latter will leave “Barcelona” and move to the heavyweight club “Vesprem” of the Hungarian championship. Fabregas, who arrived in the summer of 2018, is the head coach of the Catalan defense. In five seasons, he would win almost every possible title at national level, in addition to two Champions Leagues.
After arriving in Barcelona, Melvyn Richardson also found his friend Timothey N’Guessan, with whom he played for five seasons at Chambéry. His adjustment has been easier because he speaks Spanish fluently, his father having played for Pamplona in the Basque Country for five seasons.
“In Barcelona you have to win every game and the public demands it: they want to see a good gameMr. Richardson continues. This is one winning machine where the competition is fierce. There is a lot of pressure, there are a lot of sacrifices, but it is a great honor to be at the best club in the world.. »
The backbone of Barcelona
Dika Mem, he came to the Blaugrana much younger, only 18 years old. Considered the best right-back on the planet today, he best embodies the success of French handball players in Catalonia. Originally from Val-d’Oise, Dika Mem came to handball late at the age of 13, after trying soccer and basketball, a sport played by her brothers. Lance and Jordan Abudou among the pros.
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Dika Mem, the eighth French handball player to join the Catalan club’s history, follows in the footsteps of his predecessors Jerome Fernandes, Nikola Karabatic and Cedric Sorhaindo. In Barcelona, he finds the latter and Timothey N’Guessan, who takes him under his wing. Along with his seniors, Dika Mem observes, learns and applies himself from his first season as a champion to playing in the finals of the Champions League. “I was quickly accepted by the Catalan community”he admits.
Over the years, the small French colony has become the backbone of an unbeatable team, at least at the national level. FC Barcelona have won the last eleven Spanish titles and with a four-point lead over second-placed Granollers, the club is on track to win its twelfth consecutive title this season.
Dika Mem, who scored 1146 goals in 327 games with Barcelona, is an explosive player who can turn the tide of a match at any time with his long shots and is not afraid to defend.
” I feel at home here. I have been playing for a while in this club where I have grown as a player and as a person. I want to celebrate the history of the club and my sport. At Barça, we have everything to win: the group, the staff, the fans…”– the left-hander said when his contract was extended in May.
The tricolor back is already tied to the Catalan club until 2027. “Every year I cross a threshold, I am far from reaching full maturity”, he repeats. He feels so good at Barcelona that he could see himself spending the rest of his career in Catalonia.