Tuesday evening’s game against Eastbourne Borough saw Pierre Fonkeu feature in our matchday programme. For those who missed it, here is the full article:
Pierre Fonkeu arrived at Dartford in August and settled into Alan Dowson’s side immediately by slotting into the team’s right-wing/forward position.
The 25-year-old Cameroon-Belgian banged in four goals in his first two matches and has, subsequently, made that right-flank his own. And, he admits that moving to Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park was an easy one, “I knew Samir (Carruthers) from our time at Hemel Hempstead. He told me only good things about the club and how the environment could be perfect for me. When I came in, I felt exactly how he said. I felt like this is where I want to be, and where I can see myself achieving great things. So, after spending some time with the squad, talking to the staff, and being around the club, the decision was clear and easy for me.”
So after a relaxing off-season, Pierre became a Dart. He spent most of that off-season with his family in Belgium, a place where he can get a break from football, as well as spend time with those who he doesn’t get to see much during the season. He also managed to get away to Spain for a few days with his brother and some friends.
Because he signed for the Darts towards the end of our pre-season, he had to keep himself fit by doing his own little pre-season fitness schedule. However, he does have a personal trainer who helped him prepare for the season ahead. Pierre had the additional benefit of being able to remain fully focused on football because, he doesn’t have a career outside of the sport, “…I’m fully focused and committed to my football career.”
And, that focus and commitment is good news for Dartford… “I’ve got my own personal targets but, in general, I want to win this league. That’s why I joined this club. I honestly believe that we have everything to be able to do it, we should be up there. My goal is to do everything I can to help this club get to where it belongs in my opinion, which is higher in this league and, ultimately, into the National League.”
Pierre continues, “I intend to give my all for this club and give everything in every single game to push for promotion. I want to do well here and I start every game. After that, we’ll see… I want to play at the highest level in the sport. A few have done it after starting at this level, so I believe it’s possible. When I look back, I’ve made wrong choices at times and there’s stuff that I should have done differently. So, for me, it’s about getting things right and reaching a point in my career where I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished.”
It’s immediately apparent that Pierre is a man of honesty and integrity. And, what else comes across is the fact that he’s humble and a man of strong faith, “I’m a Christian. I believe in God. Faith is a big part of me because, without God, I wouldn’t be where I am and who I am today. Everything I have and do today is all thanks to God.”
What a marvellous testimony to hear. But, where did his love of football begin for Pierre? “I started playing football at school. I was just playing with school friends every lunch break. My best friend at the time was playing for the team, and his parents told mine to put me in the same team so that we could play together. I began a bit late, at the age of nine. I think I realised that a career was possible when I first signed for Club Brugge at the age of 15. I was doing really well and attracted the interest of many teams around the country. That’s when money became involved, so I thought this could become my actual job.”
Pierre’s football journey began in Belgium, where as a fresh-faced nine-year-old, he played for his neighbourhood club, before moving to a Division Two side called White Star after two years. After a few years, he was scouted by Club Brugge, who he signed for at the age of fifteen. In 2017 he was bought by Norwich City, but left for RC Lens in France after spending just two years with the Canaries.
While playing for RC Lens, he earned international selection to play for Cameroon, where he represented the nation in the U23 African Cup. This was followed by a brief spell in Bulgaria with Beroe Stara Zagora, before the season was cut short due to the outbreak of COVID-19. He decided to return to the UK for the following season, opting to sign for Grimsby Town. However, unfortunately the move never happened due to international clearance issues, so he plumped for Weymouth the following month instead. That was then followed by him moving to fellow National League South side Hemel Hempstead. The rest, as they say, is history.
He states that his Dad is an inspiration for him, “…because he has had a very difficult childhood, yet managed to make it. So, for me, I look at him and know that anything is possible if you really want it and strive for it. He (Dad) supports me mentally, and gives me that little push to go again after a disappointing performance or a defeat.”
What about outside of the sport? What’s a typical day like for Dartford’s pacey attacker? “I started a formation in business management less than a year ago, so that keeps me busy. I like music and fashion but, to be honest, my main centre of interest is football. I don’t really watch films or television series, so when I’m bored, I’ll watch football games and stuff about football in general.”
He also claims that he’s an amazing cook and, “…in another world, could’ve been the Belgian Gordon Ramsay! Hahaha Hahaha!”
A typical day in Pierre’s life outside of the sport usually sees him waking up around 9am, before doing a little private warm-up session and/or running session nice and early. He’ll then enjoy a nice breakfast, before resting. Depending on how he feels in the afternoon will depend on whether he goes to the gym, carry out stretches, or work through a strengthening session.
As our discussion draws to a close, Pierre has a final few words for the Dartford faithful: “I was really impressed to see how passionate and supportive the Dartford fans are. This club has got a real fan base, which is really behind the club and its players. To the Darts fans, something that I can promise is to always give everything every time I step on the pitch wearing this shirt. I want to score many more goals and contribute to bringing this club success and putting it where it belongs because, you all deserve it.”
Let’s get behind Pierre and show him the support he deserves each weekend.
By Chris Palmer