- By Nick Garnett
- Correspondent for the North of England, BBC News
Despite his acquittal on all but two charges, Benjamin Mendy may still be struggling to shake off his image in court – a sex-crazed, out-of-control multi-millionaire.
A Premier League star who doesn’t care about the feelings or well-being of the women he works with on an almost industrial scale.
Also read on BBC Africa:
What people may have suspected some players were doing in their private lives, at least in Mendy’s case, was revealed during the four-month trial.
Not only was his behavior and attitude towards women exposed in court, but also the difficulties football clubs face when their star players are out of action.
Pep Guardiola, Mendy’s manager at Manchester City, told Chester Crown Court that “in their private lives I don’t know what they do”.
“I don’t follow the players on social media so I don’t know what they are doing outside of my control in training and matches,” he said, adding: “I’m not his dad. .”
In July 2017, Mendy became City’s then record signing when, aged 23, he joined Monaco for a transfer fee of £52million.
Described by the club’s director of football, Txiki Begiristain, as “one of the best full-backs in the world”, the France international is paid around £90,000 a week.
In football, such offers come with a simple truth: for such high rewards, elite players must focus all their efforts on the pitch.
Their clubs are often happy to spend whatever it takes to keep them happy.
Like all big clubs, City employ an army of staff to meet their needs, with assistants to pay bills, act as 24-hour concierge and look after their luxury car fleet.
Jodie Deakin worked for the Premier League champions for 10 years as the men’s team support manager.
During Mendy’s trial, he said his “role was to look after the first team players and coaching staff in all aspects of their lives”.
“These kids are not doing anything for themselves,” he said.
Ms Deakin told the court how she chooses schools for the players’ children, deals with banks and checks the security of their homes.
He was handling payment requests from contractors who worked for Mendy’s when he ran out of money.
During a visit to the footballer’s Cheshire mansion, he advised him to beef up security.
Soon, locks that could be activated by his fingerprints were placed on the bedroom doors.
Ms Deakin said she likes him ‘so she has a bit of a sanctuary, to lock people up, and that’s her safe haven’.
He also mentioned the attraction of footballers to the many young women who frequent both bars and clubs.
Ms Deakin described players like Mr Mendy as “magnets”.
“You could tell from a mile away that he was a footballer because they all had the same style of clothing,” he said. “It’s dripping with designer. Many women are attracted to this look.”
Mark Boixasa led operations and first team support at Manchester City for nine years.
Like Ms. Deakin, his job is to help new recruits, as well as advise players on life after retirement.
Appearing for the defence, he told the court that Mendy had suffered a number of long-term injuries and was “not the perfect professional”.
He added that the player is often late for work due to oversleeping.
Mendy’s agent, Meïsa N’Diaye, said that whenever his client was not playing he was out more and in a written statement to the court he said he had warned the player that he had to make a choice in his life.
Mr N’Diaye said he was also aware that the footballer had several short-term relationships and was not interested in settling her down.
As well as receiving help from Manchester City, Mendy employed his own staff, including a chef to provide food at the parties he hosted at his mansion.
Housekeeper Yvonne Shea, who works 15 hours a week there, said she often arrives in the morning after some of them.
He told the court the women, who looked “quite exhausted”, were still there at times and the house was a “disaster”, with food and drink thrown around.
Once he found a broken coffee table on the floor.
“It’s like windshield glass, so it’s everywhere,” he said.
He also said the clothes were lying around and that if he had seen them near Mendy’s indoor pool, he would have “just picked them up.”
“I didn’t wash my underwear, I put them aside and have a closet for phones and wallets,” she said.
He told the court he stopped working for Mendy when City stopped paying his wages in September 2021 ahead of his trial.
Some of the parties started in nightclubs in Manchester before continuing to the mansion.
Videos showed the player on the pitch at a club stripping to the waist in front of young women, waving his shirt over his head before throwing it into the crowd.
Other footage from a party at his house showed him with his hand down his pants as he danced with a group of young women.
CCTV shown in court also showed him staggering drunkenly out of the car.
During his trial, Mendy admitted to once driving over the line and his disregard for authority was shown when he fully accepted that many parties and gatherings at his house took place when they were banned due to Covid restrictions -19.
In court, Mendy admitted that he had lived a life centered around his sexual conquests.
“I didn’t think about how they felt or how they would feel because, for me, if they want to have sex and I want to, it’s fine and I’m still partying,” he declared.
He told the court it was “honestly so easy” for him to meet the girls and have sex with them.
“Accept and Stop”
Mendy said that while he first caught the attention of girls when he signed for Marseille aged 18, interest in him increased tenfold when he joined City.
“Not because of my looks, because of football,” he told the jurors.
He said he never considered contraception and added that it was “normal” for him to have sex with different women.
He insisted in court, however, that if a woman told him ‘no’, he would ‘say okay’, adding: ‘I will accept and I will do what I want: ‘I will accept and I will. stop.”
Mendy says he’s embarrassed to talk about sex because “I can’t shout, ‘Yes, I like sex!’, because it sounds weird.”
He also told the court that when he was remanded between August 2021 and January 2022, he changed.
“All my life, I never had time to really think about what I was doing,” he said.
“When I go there I’m alone, you sit all day, all you do is think.
“I didn’t know that I would hurt them if we both agreed to have sex.”
Such was the picture painted of him during the case that even his own legal team, led by Eleanor Laws KC, admitted that “life as he knew it is over, in football in the UK”.
Ms Laws added that Mendy “cannot escape these allegations”.
His contract with Manchester City expires this summer and, if his lawyer is right, he may have to go abroad to continue playing.
The impact of the case on his lifestyle remains to be seen, but his agent, Manchester City and any future clubs hope he will be talked about for his talent in football and not his behavior off the pitch .