Cheikhou Kouyaté has lost his starting place under new manager Patrick Vieira but that is doing very little to dampen his bright spirit.
His role in helping new signings and lifting spirits has been crucial to both young and experienced teammates who continue to benefit from his infectious character.
In a recent interview, Jairo Riedewald and Eberechi Eze unanimously agreed that the Senegalese is the best character in the team at getting his teammates settled and happy.
“For me, I like Cheikhou Kouyate,” Riedewald told the club’s website.
“I think he’s the funniest, definitely. The way he comes in every morning, he’s just happy, a good energy, positive, laughing.
“The way he speaks English, his body language. His comments – the way he comments when someone says something. I don’t think he realises he’s funny, but in my eyes he’s funny.”
Kouytate’s irrepressible character is tied to his faith and culture,having been born into a strict Islamic family in Dakar Senegal.
He joined Crystal Palace in 2018 from fellow Premier League side West Ham United, before that, his first contact to European football was at Belgian side RWDM Brussels in 2007.
A young Cheikhou Kouyaté
- Cheikhou Kouyaté was born on the 21st December 1989 in Dakar Senegal.
- Both his parents were farmers.
- He started playing football in basic school like most of the young kids.
- Kouyate’s childhood hero is his current manager, Patrick Vieira who was also born in Dakar but eventually played for France.
- Through a trial he was picked up by home town club ASC Yego Dakar where he was used as a central defender partly due to his towering height and strength.
- Kouyate’s parents were very supportive which was rare to see from families at that time.
- Kouyate combined schooling and playing football at the academy until 2007.
The European Adventure
- Kouyate first travelled to Europe in 2007 for a trial with a second division club in France but he was abandoned by the agents who took him there when the club decided against signing him due to immigration problems.
- He spent the next two months in France thinking of his next move before a scout who had seen him train a couple of times introduced him to a Turkish agent called Balkan.
- Balkan was impressed with the midfielder’s physique but later revealed he was swept off his feet by Kouyate’s infectious character.
- There were still issues to iron out if he was to help Kouyate play in Europe, including his work permit issues so the agent adopted him as his son.
- The adoption process was successful, opening the door for Kouyate to travel to Belgium where he’d sign for RWDM Brussels in the second tier of Belgian football pyramid.
- His wage was still very small and Balkan revealed he had to cover his rent while he played in the second division.
- Despite the challenges Kouyate worked and after three years giants Anderlecht came calling.
- An initial loan spell at Kortrijk would start his journey at Anderlecht but the Senegalese would return to play more than 150 games for Anderlecht before leaving to join West Ham in 2014.
The Premier League Experience
- After four seasons and playing more than 120 league games for the Hammers, Kouyate moved to the Crystal Palace where he’s enjoyed consistency and is helping the club transition under a new manager and playing style.