Welcome back to 20 Questions, the series where we help you get to know the players on this year's squad. For previous interviews in this series, we went behind the scenes with Tyreke Johnson, Matheus Silva, Nicky Downs, Conor McGlynn, Arthur Rogers, Danny Barrera, Mads Jørgensen, Alex Davey, Noah Paravicini, Aiden Mesias, Mac Steeves, Kevin Politz, Gabriel Torres, Cheno, Harry Swartz and Alex Dixon. This week, we caught up with Goalkeeper Parfait Mandanda who has led the team to three wins in the first three matches of the 2020 season. Enjoy!
1) Three wins so far, how do you feel about this year’s team?
PM: We are a good team, a young team. We’ve been like a family and we have a lot to prove on the pitch.
2) How did you end up joining Hartford?
PM: I knew the coach before I signed my contract here. He knows my country and he thought I would be good for the team because of my experience and my communication. So he said to come here and I said yes. I wanted to come to America, I think it’s a great opportunity for my career.
3) What's your favorite place you've played in your career?
PM: My favorite place I’ve played is Charleroi. Hartford is like Charleroi when I first started, we started in the second division and step by step we went through Belgium and proved we are a good team. I thought we could do the same thing in Hartford. The Club is like a family, just like Charleroi, and the staff and front office want to prove to the fans that we are the team in the USL.
4) Had you been to America, before playing for Hartford?
PM: Yes, I came once before. I went to Miami on holiday.
5) What did you do in Miami?
PM: Yeah we went on holiday with my friends, went went to the beach. We were young when we went but it was a lot of fun.
6) What's the biggest difference between American football and European football in your mind?
PM: Training is very much the same. Coach Jaidi is from Europe, from Southampton, so his mentality is European. I want to see more teams before I say something about that though.
7) What's your favorite style of music?
PM: I like Michael Jackson.
8) What’s your favorite Michael Jackson song?
PM: Thriller is my favorite.
9) What is it like to be part of a famous family of goalkeepers?
PM: I think it’s great because we are four keepers, four brothers and it’s good for us because being a goalkeeper isn’t easy. It’s not an easy job and you have to be focused all the time so it’s not easy when we make a mistake. I am happy, because my brothers know what I do and how I can improve. I’m very lucky to have them.
10) Are you guys competitive with each other?
PM: No, no, no, because it’s not a competition. We are brothers so, we are here for support. I proved myself, my little brother wants to prove himself also. It’s a little challenge for us.
11) Do you guys critique each other's performances to try and help each other?
PM: Yeah, of course. Every week we talk about football, about family, about what you can improve more.
12) What is your favorite thing you've eaten in America?
PM: I like burgers. But also Chick-fil-A. I go with Tyreke and we eat together. We don’t eat it too often because we have to play and stay in shape, but I like it.
13) Messi or Ronaldo?
PM: Because Ronaldo, he worked for it. Messi’s talent is genuine you know? Ronaldo, he worked, he worked, he worked and Messi, it’s that easy for him. For me, it’s good to see someone like Ronaldo because it proves if you want to work, you can do something special.
15) What athletes did you admire when you were younger?
PM: Brazilian Ronaldo. He’s a very, very good striker, and also Nicolas Anelka.
16) What do you do on an off day?
PM: Today, I had training with my personal coach, I have a personal coach because I like to train and put in a lot of work. I watch TV or a movie. I talk with my daughter, my wife, and my son. Maybe get a massage and just relax.
17) What is something that our fans don't know about you that would surprise them?
PM: The guys tell me, my face is like closed, like I'm not happy, but they know I'm funny. And I'm think that would probably surprise the fans.
18) What comes after Hartford for you?
PM: At this moment, I'm focused on Hartford and I hope they want to keep me for next season. But for me, I do want to make the MLS.
19) I understand that in French, your name Parfait means “perfect”. But in America, a parfait is something different. Do you know what it is?
PM: No I have no idea.
20) It’s like a dessert with yogurt, fruit, and granola. It’s really good. I take it you haven’t had one yet?
PM: No I haven’t! I’m really surprised. I only knew that translated it meant perfect!