Aurélien Tchouaméni: Meet the French soccer star everyone is talking about but will probably never see live
“I’m not going to play in MLS this year.” It was May 2016, and it was around noon. As I walked into my first-ever public soccer match in Paris, I overheard a young guy asking his friend, “What’s your name?” “Aurélien Tchouaméni.” I laughed about the confusion and started to walk out. “Oh, so you’re the kid who can’t stand soccer.”
Aurélien Tchouaméni is one of the most polarizing French soccer players of all time. So polarizing in fact, he has become a lightning rod for criticism. The “Foul Ball” star has caught the attention of US national team officials, the national press and, most recently, ESPN. With his high-flying pace (he holds the FIFA World Cup men’s record for most aerials per 90 minutes), hard-charging runs, and a booming booming voice, he is a sight to behold. To some, he’s been a nuisance. His team, Paris Saint-Germain, is ranked by FIFA as the most popular soccer club in France.
But Tchouaméni stands for more than his on-field performances. He has captivated the world for more than a decade, and with his unique brand of French sports fandom, he has made many in the soccer world look at the game with different eyes. The 23-year-old striker is the first of his nation to have his likeness or a photo taken with an E! network television reality show or on the cover of the New York Times magazine.
His father, a soccer player who played in the French Championship and spent time in Europe, says his greatest ambition was to make it to the World Cup. But even before he dreamed of a World Cup run, he knew his son could