A virtual unknown just three years ago, Aurelien Chedjou’s rise to prominence has come on the back of his displays at Ligue 1 outfit Lille. Able to line up in central defence or as a defensive midfielder, Chedjou did not make his top-flight debut until the age of 22.
A slow-burning talent, Chedjou endured a difficult spell in the youth ranks at Spanish club Villarreal before a move to French third-tier outfit Pau in 2003. He subsequently dropped another level, spending two seasons with Auxerre’s reserves and one at FC Rouen, before signing for Lille in 2007, where he joined up with compatriot Jean II Makoun.
After another season of mainly reserve-team football, Chedjou was selected for his country’s tilt at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008, an experience that imbued the player with renewed confidence. And on his return from Chinese soil, he swiftly set about taking advantage of injuries and suspensions to rack up appearances for Lille’s first team.
Blessed with versatility and a keen positional sense, the powerful performer quickly cemented a regular starting berth and became a key component of Lille’s defensive unit. Chedjou has also made great strides at national-team level, even partnering Nicolas Nkoulou at the heart of the Indomitable Lions’ backline in two matches at the 2010 CAF African Cup of Nations in Angola. Chedjou turns 25 the day after Cameroon’s second Group E encounter against Denmark at South Africa 2010.