Two courses ago, the captains of the Barça handball team told him by surprise to lift the Champions League cup.
Dika Mem (Paris, 25 years old) blushed.
“I am never at the center of the celebrations, but on that occasion I think they did it because they respected me, because I was playing at a high level and because I am good for the dressing room;
I get along well with everyone ”, he reflects in a meeting with EL PAÍS.
Mem felt in Cologne, after beating Danish Aalborg, that he was touching heaven, that he had earned it after all he had fought to become one of the best players on the planet.
An award for a boy who had a difficult childhood and who came to handball as a fluke, now once again the Asobal Cup champion after beating Cuenca and Ademar in the final over the weekend.
The first years of his life were not easy for him, he soon went to live with his grandmother Marceline because his parents, he from Cameroon and she from Reunion Island, already separated, lived in a delicate situation and could not take care of him, because He had seven brothers on his mother's side and one more on his father's side.
"It was not an easy childhood," he admits;
"But that has made me stronger, with character and confidence."
So his world was reduced to
(as he calls his grandmother) and two of his brothers (now professional hoops), with whom he occasionally played basketball on the streets of District 95. from Paris.
Although he dreamed of emulating Henry and Zidane, of becoming a football star.
But suddenly he came across handball.
It turns out that at the age of 13, a friend told him to go try out for a team.
Mem accepted without expectations, since he had never held a ball in his hands.
"I was very good at it and from there I started to burn stages quickly," he says.
So many and so fast that six years later he had already played in the lower ranks of France and Barça signed him as a project for the future.
"I understood it as an opportunity to help my family and myself, it is what drives me to get up every day," he agrees, convinced that this weight does not put any pressure on him, since he says he does not think so.
He doesn't do it before throwing either.
“I don't look at the goalkeeper, but I choose a place and there it goes.
If I fail, the next time I throw it back there and I'll tell you that it comes in ”, he releases;
“It is that sometimes I feel that if I am physically well, I cannot be stopped.
It's very difficult to get blocked.
That is understood by Carlos Ortega, the coach, who never tires of telling him not to relax, to be more of a protagonist.
But Mem doesn't see it that way.
“He thinks that I should be more selfish and score more goals.
I know there are games where I can score 10 goals, but I'm not going to do it because I want all my teammates to shine and have that light.
And when it's an important game or moment, I know I'm going to be there”, resolves the full-back, Barça's second captain.
And that's why he wins over his companions.
“Although also for jokes”, he intercedes, since he loves to hesitate, with jokes that are not expected because he is a foreigner.
Although that relationship was hard to forge with Ortega, because Mem did not understand —like the bulk of the locker room— that they fired Xavi Pascual when he had won everything the previous season.
"He made me the player I am and it was hard for me to assimilate his goodbye", he explains while revealing that it was the coach along with his teammate Tchouf (Sorhaindo) -also Valero Rivera and Timo N'Guessan- who helped him adapt to the city.
Especially since he lived in Gavà and the walls closed in on him.
“I was very bored.
My mother could only come about three times a year and I became very addicted to video games, especially
”, he reveals.
Now he doesn't do it anymore —although some games are thrown into
Call of Duty
— because he has a girlfriend and lives in Castelldefels, where he takes long walks on the beach.
Everything has changed.
Like her relationship with the coach.
"We've already grown fond of each other," she clarifies.
Maybe that's why he didn't accept PSG's offer.
“It was more money, although not as much.
And they weren't serious because they didn't know who would be the coach, or which players would follow.
He was not going to go because he was from Paris.
Also, I feel very comfortable here and there is a project.
I want to make history at Barça”, he wields.
The one that happens to win the third Champions League in a row, already in the pocket of the Asobal Cup and almost certainly the league.
he would like his grandmother to attend, whom he helps (also his mother) every month.
But it will be seen if he will lift the Cup or captain Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas will.
He gives the same.
He prefers others to shine.
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