The native of Orsay in the suburbs of Paris was long split between representing France and Côte d'Ivoire. He eventually opted for the country of his ancestors despite a number of France U-21 call-ups, and the versatile and athletic Hamburg midfielder cannot be regretting his choice. First selected by the Elephants in June 2004, Demel participated in the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ and was a central figure during the qualifiers for South Africa 2010, contesting 590 minutes in seven outings.
He has also been an integral player for Hamburg over the last two seasons, having first joined in the summer of 2005 following three years with Borussia Dortmund. Capable of performing as a central midfielder or as a right-back, it was in the latter position that he first carved out a starting berth for himself at HSV, serving alongside Daniel Van Buyten, Timothee Atouba and Khalid Boulahrouz in a rock-solid rearguard. The 2006/07 season proved more of a frustration, but he came back strongly and has since made a minimum of 25 appearances per term, almost all of them in the starting eleven.
Strong in the tackle and combative, Demel has a habit of collecting more than his share of yellow cards in the Bundesliga, though he was cautioned only once during the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Formerly with Nimes and Arsenal – for whom he failed to make an appearance during his 2000/01 stint – he has said: “Côte d'Ivoire are capable of anything.” While that suggests the team may be capable of lows as well as highs, Demel himself is a model of consistency.