The Colorado Rapids won the rights to Cameroonian forward Charles Eloundou back in January, but that was just the beginning. Nine months later, the 18-year-old forward finally arrived in Colorado Wednesday night, ending a process covered in red tape.
While not eligible to play in 2013, Eloundou trained with the team for the first time on Thursday. He then talked to the media for the first time since arriving, with teammate Danny Mwanga assisting in the French translation:
On the difficulty getting to the U.S. and joining the Rapids:
Eloundou: “I was waiting on my agent to work on the paperwork and everything between the club here and the club where I was playing in Cameroon. That’s why it took me long to get here. At the end, they came up with a solution, and that’s why I’m here. I was waiting on my paperwork.”
What was the solution?
“The season there was at the beginning, so the club in Cameroon told me to wait until at least midseason before I came here.”
What does he know about the Rapids?
“It’s a good team, I feel better here, and that’s the reason why as soon as I got my paperwork I wanted to come here, because I was excited to come here and be a part of this team.”
What has he noticed so far?
“The altitude is still bothering me a little bit, but with time I’m going to get used to it. The players are a little physical, but I’ll get used to it.”
Was the process frustrating?
“Yes, it was frustrating because I wanted to find my new club, and spending that much time not being able to come here, yes, it was frustrating. But I’m happy, I’m happy to be here.”
What are the next steps with the Under-20 National Team?
“The last camp was in France, and I was invited to that. I played every game, and I actually even scored a goal against Morocco.”
Is the National Team staff upset about his move to the U.S.?
“They might be upset, but everybody has to look out for himself. I’m looking out for my future. I want to get better, I want to progress, I want to learn, other leagues than just Cameroon.”
Will he stay in Colorado in the offseason, despite the cold weather?
“Yes. That’s why I want to stay, so I get used to it.”
Was there interest from other clubs that wanted to sign him?
“I don’t know about that. You’d have to talk to my agent about that. But I feel good here, and I’m proud to be here, and that’s what I’m focusing on.”
What are your goals moving forward?
“I want to get the coaches’ trust. When big games come you have to be ready and show what you have, and that’s the moment that I’m hoping to be able to help the team with.”
Has your experience with the Under-20 National Team helped you?
“My experience with the national team helped me a lot, to play against big teams like Brazil, Japan, France. It helps you learn a lot about the game and get more experience playing against big teams like that.”
How many times have you had the chance to play with the full national team?
“I did play against Tanzania [in February], and I was supposed to come here shortly after that game, but the paperwork and other problems didn’t get the solution so I couldn’t come here.”