His name will forever be a part of football folklore in Tahiti and now striker Steevy Chong Hue is aiming to become one of the few Tahitians to make the grade in a top flight European league.
The fleet-footed Chong Hue, whose goal in the 2012 OFC Nations Cup famously netted Tahiti passage to the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013, has earned a trial with France Ligue 1 side FC Lorient.
Marama Vahirua is undoubtedly Tahiti’s most well-known footballer having spent over a decade successfully plying his trade for a variety of clubs in Ligue 1.
Now Chong Hue, who has previously played in Belgium’s lower leagues, is aiming to follow in Vahirua’s footsteps with a two-week trial at the Brittany outfit.
The trial was facilitated by Vahirua who made a call to his former coach Christian Gourcuff.
“I had already spoken to him at the time of the Confederations Cup to tell him that I had noticed Steevy, that I think he has the larger qualities of a professional even if he is still missing some of the basics,” said Vahirua.
“I’ve explained to him that in a few months he could become a complete pro, a pro with a big future despite his age. He’s going to train with Lorient and that’s how Gourcuff can see if he has the level or not.”
After the Confederations Cup I hoped that I would have a chance like this and now it’s up to me to go right to the end.
For Chong Hue the opportunity is a dream come true. “It is all thanks to Marama and his contacts that I have the opportunity to do this,” he says. “After the Confederations Cup I hoped that I would have a chance like this and now it’s up to me to go right to the end.”
“I’m not going just to say I’ve gone and that’s it. I want to succeed. Being separated from my family is not a handicap for me. I’ve waited for this opportunity and I’m ready to go right to the end.”
Chong Hue’s football journey has already been a long and colourful odyssey with the 23-year-old being the only player on the Toa Aito roster at Brazil 2013 that was born away from the main island in French Polynesia. Born and raised in Raiatea, an island of just 12,000 inhabitants located 200 kilometres away from Papeete, Chong-Hue made the move to the capital for football when he was 17.
If Chong Hue is contracted, he will link up with club captain Wesley Lautoa, a fellow Pacific Islander born on Wallis and Fortuna who represents New Caledonia.
Meanwhile, Georges Gope-Fenepej, another New Caledonian who featured prominently at last year’s OFC Nations Cup, started in the season opener for Troyes last weekend as the club seek to bounce back to Ligue 1 following relegation.