On loan to Paris FC by Lille, midfielder Rominigue Kouamé was launched in Ligue 1 by the Argentine coach. He hopes to take advantage of his season with the Parisian club to bounce back.
From the outset, his first name – Rominigue – was a striking one. Tribute from his parents to the German attacker Karl-Heinz Rummenigge? “Maybe my dad was a fan of him,” explains Rominigue Kouamé (21). But I couldn’t ask him because he died. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know Rummenigge. It was only at the Guillou Academy in Bamako that I was asked the question and talked about him. Since then, I’ve been looking into it. I know he’s a sports director at Bayern Munich.”
Spotted in the Yopougon district of Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Kouamé then joined Majestic SC, a training centre that is a partner of the Guillou academies. “I took tests to go to Bamako,” explains Kouamé, who grew up in a large family (7 sisters, 4 brothers). At 12 years old, it is not easy to have to leave your country and your family. But at the academy, there was a swimming pool, we were happy, we had fun and we played football.”
After five years at the Guillou Academy, he joined Real de Bamako and opted for Malian nationality. “It was the Federation that took care of the administrative procedures,” he explains. It was a good idea because in the Mali national team, I was going to meet all my training buddies. I just asked my mom for permission. She realized that this could be an opportunity for me. Now I am attached to Mali but I did not deny my Ivorian side.”
Wounded after a collision with Fabinho
With Mali, he was spotted at the 2016 African Nations Championship in Lille where he signed with Yves Bissouma. “We were called twins,” smiled Kouamé. He’s like my brother. We grew up in the same neighborhood and then we always played together.” Since this summer, however, their paths have separated. After two good seasons in L1, Bissouma signed for €20m in Brighton. Kouamé had to go on loan to Paris FC in the L2 class to get stronger. “My brother Yves’ career path gives me even more strength and desire to succeed,” says the midfielder. Launched by Marcelo Bielsa in the first matchday of L1 against Nantes (3-0) on 6 August 2017, he had made a remarkable debut with two goals, including a decisive pass for El-Ghazi.
“Bielsa had put me on the left side,” he recalls. With him, you have to be versatile, he doesn’t take care of the places too much. People think he’s crazy. But with me, he was very kind. He taught me a lot about how to position myself.” But his momentum was shattered in his fifth L1 match against Monaco. “In a shock with Fabinho, I was wounded in the left shoulder. I had surgery and never played in L1 again.”
Holder in the last 7 games of the PFC, Kouamé hopes to win in the coming years with Lille where he is under contract until 2022. “Franck Béria (Editor’s note: LOSC’s Deputy Director of Professional Football) often asks about me. When I watch this year’s team play, it makes me want to come back, especially if we qualify for a European Cup. But for that, I must already be good at Paris FC.”