OUSMANE Dembélé is enjoying a moment of good form. He’s playing more regularly and was recently recalled to the French national team by Didier Deschamps. He scored a goal for les bleus, and received plaudits from coaches and media alike. Now, he’s on the front page of L’Equipe, one of the most important sports outlets in France.
One of the reasons for his resurgence in form has been his physical fitness. The winger has struggled with injuries since making the move from Borussia Dortmund to FC Barcelona. But he has since finally added more stamina and power to his body, helping him steer clear of big injuries and continue to grow in confidence.
One of his secrets has been a trio of French professionals who work for him both at the club and for France: physical trainer Salah Ghaidi, physiotherapist Jean-Baptiste Duault, and cook Antonhy Audebaud.
Dembélé turned to them after becoming fed up with injury plagued seasons which stymied his progress.
“I did not know the world of football very well until I was called in to supervise Ousmane.” Ghaidi told L’Equipe.
He was a former sprinter who was a national champion in France. Ghaidi has been working with Dembélé since last august.
“My specialty is physical preparation and Ousmane has an explosive game, he is very fast, like a sprinter, the type of profile that I know best. [Training Dembélé] is as if we had a Formula 1 car in our hands. We are here to take care of him and help him optimize his performance. Physically, he has not reached one hundred percent yet. I’m not sure how far he can go. He is a war machine,” Ghaidi said.
Duault also comes form a non-football background. He was a physiotherapist for the French athletics team for eight years. Dembélé’s entourage reached out to him after he gave an expert opinion to the media about how the player could avoid injuries.
My goal is not to make Ousmane Dembélé run faster, but to make his body withstand the workload to which he is subjected to, and to prevent the risk of injury as much as possible, knowing that zero risk does not exist.”
Audebaud worked as a chef for some world renowned restaurants before settling in Barcelona, where he worked with the most famous local chefs and gave private lessons. Dembélé’s entourage reached out to him in 2018, but he became responsible for the player’s menus starting in 2019.
“I only cook using local, fresh and natural ingredients, without additives or preservatives. It is important that he enjoys eating and that he understands what I put in the dishes. I choose ingredients based on biological analysis, the frequency and the intensity of training and competition. I can’t prepare the same menu ten days after a match as the day before.”
The trio’s work, along with the commitment and will of the player, have produced results so far.