Fredler Christophe, the jewel of Haiti

  • Fredler Christophe is the captain of Haiti’s U-17 team

  • Nicknamed Bijou (Jewel) because of his skills

  • Midfielder is hoping to make a name for himself at Brazil 2019

Nicknames are part and parcel of footballing culture in Brazil, a country that has produced greats such as Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento), Zico (Arthur Antunes Coimbra), and Garrincha (Manoel Francisco dos Santos). One player hoping to live up to his nickname at Brazil 2019 over the next few weeks is Haiti captain Fredler Christophe, whose soubriquet of Bijou (Jewel) reflects his precious quality on the ball.

“Absolutely everyone calls me that. Everyone. But I like it,” Christophe told with a smile. “My father gave me the name when I was a child because he thought I was a good footballer, and it’s stuck ever since.”

The lowdown on Fredler Christophe

  • Height: 5’4 (1.62m)

  • Date and place of birth: 11 January 2002, Leogane (Haiti)

  • Position: Right/left midfield

  • Shirt number: 11

  • Club: RC Strasbourg

The nickname has stuck for the simple reason that he has lived up to it. Haiti’s prized asset, Christophe is a quick and gifted attacking midfielder who has just signed for French club RC Strasbourg and was part of the Haiti senior squad that reached the semi-finals at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

“A lot people are talking about him and I follow his progress closely,” said Haiti winger Herve Bazile, Christophe’s role model on the domestic scene. “He’s a very talented player, like so many others in this U-17 team. But it’s true that a bit more is expected of him in this competition. Let’s hope he has a good tournament and that he leads Haiti as far as possible. He’s full of confidence.”

Christophe also has the confidence of his coach, Miguel Perdomo, who has made him his skipper: “Bijou is a key player with some special qualities. He’s left-footed but he can play on the right and the left. He’s very quick too and he’s a very influential figure in the team in matches and training.”

Pressure and ambition

That amount of praise and expectation could unsettle a 17-year-old about to play in his first World Cup, but not Bijou: “Yes, the pressure’s there, but it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “It’s just part of my job. In fact, the pressure motivates me more than it stresses me out.”

As those words show, this is a 17-year-old with a maturity beyond his years, one who is already becoming a familiar face on his home island: “Yes, people are starting to recognise me and I’m signing more and more autographs,” he said, taking it all in his stride. “I’m flattered. It’s like pressure, though; it’s all part of the job.”

The lowdown on Fredler Christophe

  • Favourite club: Barcelona

  • Favourite player: Kylian Mbappe

  • His dream: To turn professional

  • His other passion: Flying

In terms of Brazil 2019, Bijou starts his job on 27 October, when Les Grenadiers take on Korea Republic in their tournament opener in Goiania, their first match in a Group C that also contains France and Chile.

Christophe is not fazed at what lies ahead, however: “Everyone sees Haiti as a little country, but that doesn’t bother us. We’re here because we’re among the 24 leading nations in the world. And we have the same ambition as everyone else: to take the cup home with us.”

While Haiti are not expected to be leaving Brazil with the trophy in their hands, the Caribbean nation can at least take pride from having a very special jewel in their ranks.