Opportunities, seized


Didier Ovono makes appearances in Portugal, France and Belgium’s first divisions after training at Marcet with Tommy N’Kono.

At age 20, Didier Ovono had reached the top of what Gabon had to offer in terms of football. After settling as a goalkeeper in the lower categories of his national team, he signed for Mangasport – where he’d win a league title – and Sogéa, two of the most prestigious teams of his home country. The only problem being, Gabon was beginning to look small. It was time Didier tried his luck in Europe and, before long, Barcelona was where he found the opportunity he was looking for.

Tommy N’Kono proposed I that look at Marcet for professional goalkeeper training. I didn’t think twice about it, I saw it as an opportunity that could open doors for me in the European football scene”, recalls the now París FC goalkeeper. The progress made by his team goes to show that Didier made the right decision back in 2003. A decision that would see him to first division games of countries such as Portugal, Belgium and France.

Didier Ovono con la selección absoluta de Gabón. A su lado, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Ovono with Aubameyang and the rest of Gabon National Team.

“I’d never been to a High-Performance Academy, training at Marcet had little to do with what I’d done before in Gabon. My stay at the academy showed me a lot, especially in terms of technique. I learned how to move correctly and was introduced to a training method that just pushed me to a higher level. Come to think of it, after two years at Marcet I signed my first professional contract.”

Didier came about his first professional opportunity in El Salvador. Defending the Alianza‘s goalposts for the 2005-06 season, before returning to Europe and signing for Paços de Ferreira, in Portugal’s first division league. After these experiences he returned to Marcet. “During the day I trained with Tommy and in the afternoon I helped him with the younger ones, amongst them Oliver Torres, still only a little boy… Seeing him play in the Champions League now makes me very proud.”

“Marcet has been a determining factor in my career and the titles I have won”

The second and -for now- last chapter in Didier’s story here at Marcet lasted only three months. The Gabonese goalkeeper went on to sign for Dinamo Tbilisi, a Georgian club with one of the most trophy-filled cabinets of the country. Didier spent three seasons in the Caucasus and worked his way to winning a League, a Cup and a Super Cup. In 2012, he started a new adventure in France, where he wore the colours of Le Mans and Sochaux. After his experience in Ligue 1, he was off to the Belgian First Division, Oostende to be precise, with whom he won a national Cup in 2016.

Didier Ovono en un partido entre Gabón y Suiza disputado en el estadio de Wembley.
Ovono in a match against Switzerland played at Wembley.

Today, the African keeper plays for Paris FC. At 36, he says he’s still some time away from putting away his gloves. “I still want to play. When I look at players like Buffon, who at 40 years of age is still at such a high level, I know that I still have two or three seasons ahead of me, dedicated to what I like best.”

Didier is all too aware that sooner or later the time will come to look beyond the confines of the football pitch. “Down the line, I wouldn’t mind coaching. If I do decide to dedicate myself to this industry, I’ll most likely go back to Barcelona for some propper training. There’s no doubt Marcet has been a determining factor in my career and the titles I have won.”

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