For those younger than 30, Ken Monkou was Chelsea’s Player of the Year in 1990 and became our first black player to win the award. He can now be found flipping pancakes at his pancake house in Holland as well as playing for this weekend’s Chelsea Masters team. Ken recently met with CFCnet to discuss all things Chelsea…..
CFCnet: Ken what are you doing these days?
After retiring in 2000 I bought a traditional pancake house in Oude Delft, a beautiful old town near Rotterdam. I used to go there after training when I was a kid and when the restaurant came up for sale I bought it.
It’s a beautiful old building built in the 17th Century and now it is run by mother and sister although I can be seen from time to time flipping pancakes in the kitchen!
We are only fifteen minutes from Rotterdam and Oude Delft is beautiful, full of character. Any Chelsea fans wanting a day trip to Holland are especially welcome to come and visit us. The website is: http://www.stadspannekoeckhuys.nl
I also do media work for Dutch TV covering Chelsea as well as stuff for Chelsea TV. I lived in Harrogate when playing for my last Club, Huddersfield, and I’ve stayed there ever since – I’m a fly fishing enthusiast so I love the North of England with its rugged countryside and rivers. I’m also looking to get a place in London as I’m down here a lot. I’ve lived in England for twenty years now and feel very at home in this country.
CFCnet: Yeah, we remember you fly fishing with Erland Johnsen (another Player of the Year) and Graeme le Saux. You were like the ‘Guardian readers’ posse. Are you still in touch with them?
I’m in touch with Graeme frequently but I’ve lost a bit of contact with Erland. I should get back in touch with him really…
CFCnet: We have recently had a fellow Dutchman in temporary charge of Chelsea. What was your impression of Hiddink?
It’s all about results. When you come to Chelsea you’ve got to produce immediately and Guus did. He is an excellent communicator and, at this level of football, communication is of paramount importance. If you’re not a good communicator you won’t make it at the elite level. Guus has it all, not only is he a great communicator but he has been successful at every level of football and is a great tactician.
CFCnet: What do you think went wrong with Scolari?
Scolari came with a good CV but day-to-day management demands a completely different set of skills from international management. Like I said, you have to be able to communicate with the players – if that’s not there 100% then factions appear in the dressing room and it’s difficult to control. Scolari was a warm character but you could see that there was a little distance between him and a few of the players and staff. That had an effect, I’m certain of that.
To be honest, at a club like Chelsea, a manager has to be the total complete package – good with the media, a good standing in the game, good ideas, great with the players etc.”
It’s all about chemistry and I’m of the opinion that players and a prospective new manager should get together as part of the interview process to see if there is chemistry between them. In my day of course, this never happened.
What I have noticed in my career is that certain people make great Number Two’s but not necessarily great Number One’s. Bobby Campbell was a proper manager and had the authority to accompany it. Ian Porterfield, however, was a great Number Two but that didn’t translate necessarily into a great Number One at Chelsea.
At this point, by complete coincidence, Bobby Campbell walks into the Chelsea Health Club and Ken exchanges pleasantries with him before Bobby says “did Ken tell you I saved his life?”
CFCnet: Is this true?
Yes, when I joined Chelsea the team were at a summer training camp in Marbella but I was invited to play in a benefit game against Surinam where most of the Dutch black players originate from. Gullit and Rijkaard were also invited.
Bobby, however, said that it was important I met my team mates and wouldn’t let me attend the match. I was furious and had a bit of a strop. Nevertheless I obeyed Bobby and went to the training camp.
I later found out that if I had gone to Surinam I would have been on a flight that actually crashed killing all 200-odd people on board. It was tragic. You could say that Bobby saved my life. He’s right.
CFCnet: How did you come to join Chelsea in the first place?
Bobby Campbell’s son was playing in Holland and he came up against me in a match when I was playing for Feyenoord. He thought I played a tidy game and he tipped his father off that I was worth possibly buying. I cost £100,000 and was sold for £750,000 a few years later after 94 games and 2 goals.
CFCnet: Yeah, we’ll never forget the match against Scarborough in a cup tie when you scored a thirty yard own goal!
I lobbed Dave Beasant and he was a tall man!
CFCnet: Why did you leave, only a few months after signing a new 5 year contract?
The Club signed Paul Elliott and they obviously felt we were similar players and that I was surplus to requirements….
CFCnet: Finally, who were the best players you played against?
Liverpool’s Ian Rush and Peter Beardsley. An unbelievable combination with breathtaking movement.
CFCnet: Thanks Ken, we’re very grateful to you for taking the time to meet and talk to us.