At 20, Ken Nkuba is making a name for himself in Charleroi: “We love you for what you do, not for what you are”

It is a nice surprise that the exercise of the interview sometimes reserves for us. We would only guess Ken Nkuba’s 20 years from his baby face, certainly not from his calm tone, his precocious maturity and his honest words, a thousand miles from the wooden language filling the mouths of many of his colleagues in the profession.

Is it the rupture of the cruciate ligaments that he experienced when he was barely of age, his unshakable faith or a perfect education given by a healthy entourage that shaped him like this? The answer is to be found in a mix of all these rare and precious ingredients.

With his temperament, the recent Belgian international hopeful manages to recycle bad memories into life experience. “A lot of things have happened since I signed my first professional contract four years ago. I don’t realize. The pitfalls have sometimes arisen in front of me but I won’t change anything about what I’ve experienced, not even my injury. I tend to say that what happens is wished by God, others will say that it is chance. I am still a little proud of what I have achieved even if it is only the beginning.”

The beginnings of his career date back to the weekend of October 26, 2018 or almost. A landslide of emotions crossed him in a few hours during a vertiginous and unusual ascent from the top of his 16 years, 9 months and five days. “It went really fast. I was in U18 and I was coming back from a physical problem. It all started with a friendly match against Union Saint-Gilloise in the middle of the international break. Felice Mazzù brings me in as a quarter hour. I’m a hit. It gives me hope. One day, the first team is deprived of a few elements. I’m in the group to go to Ghent. I go through the stadium to sign my first pro contract and the next day, I made my debut at the Ghelamco Arena entering the last quarter of an hour. I had never rubbed shoulders with the pro group to the point that there were players I was seeing for the first time.”

The Buffalos are a symbol in his young career. It is also against the Ghent that the piston found the joys of a tenure oh how “special and full of emotion”after 403 days of struggling to repair a bruised knee. “This injury allowed me to gain perspective on my vision of things. I noticed a lot of things. You are with the group without being totally. You are there but you do not count. The coach will not not devote too much attention to you either because he has to rotate his team. It’s normal. You have to accept that because it’s only the pitch that counts in the middle of football. I’ve never complained saying that I was not considered enough. It is on the lawn that you have to perform.”

Already prevention on its reconversion

Optimistic despite a few logical moments of doubt, the Carolo went through this period of turbulence with serenity. What to come back stronger and in the foreground to the point of finishing the past exercise in the shoes of a holder on the right flank.

His splendid goal against Mechelen symbolically embodied his resilience. He experienced it keeping a cool head, without racing, after isolated months of work. “You go from a moment of loneliness to a feeling of euphoria. When I saw the hype about my goal, I thought it was good but it helped me not get carried away . In this environment, people don’t like you for what you are but for what you do. It’s normal but you have to be aware of that.”

Reasoned and thoughtful, the Zebra is well aware of the precariousness of an environment filled with ephemeral and rickety glitter. “When you look at the post-career figures of the players, there are I don’t know how many percent of divorces and 63% of bankruptcies. You take a locker room and you realize that more than half are in trouble I was quickly made aware of this fact by those around me. Frédéric Gounongbé’s book (‘Illusions Désillusions du ballon rond’) helped me a lot. We are not yet aware of the subject of retraining, unlike doping or in sports betting.

Whether on or off the lawns of the kingdom, Nkuba anticipates wonderfully and this maturity is likely to benefit Sporting.



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