Hugo Ekitike: Fizzing for Reims

Hugo Ekitike: Fizzing for Reims

Publish on 01/05 at 12:01 - D. CROSSAN


Reims’ Hugo Ekitike enjoyed a stunning first half to the season, plundering eight Ligue 1 Uber Eats goals to make him the highest scoring teenager in the five big European leagues.

The Champagne club have a gem on their hands and – even better – the 19-year-old Ekitike is Reims born and raised, who grew up idolising Reims’ players. But there’s more to Ekitike’s story than a tale of the local lad made good as the striker was toughened up by a loan spell in Danish football before returning to Reims last summer and bursting onto the French top flight scene. Ekitike scored three goals in 11 matches at Vejle BK in the second half of the 2020-2021 season and later commented: “It was the first time I felt like a real professional footballer.”


Previously with only two substitute appearances to his name in Ligue 1, Ekitike made his full debut against Montpellier on August 15 and just under a month later the 1m90 tall forward netted his first Ligue 1 goal, scoring in the fine 2-0 win at Reims. The Stade Auguste Delaune really took to him when he scored a double off the bench two weeks later in a 3-1 win over Nantes. He said: “I know that I’ve made a lot of people in my family very proud. I scored two goals at Delaune and it’s without a doubt one of the greatest days of my life.”



Ekitike: "It's magnificent"


Ekitike wears the number 22 shirt made famous by club legend Mickaël Tacalfred, a defender, and performs with a confidence that makes him incredibly dangerous to play against. Ekitike told Foot Mercato: “When I start a match, it doesn’t matter who I’m playing against, I always say to myself that I’m capable of scoring or doing something decisive. I went to Stade Auguste Delaune as a youngster and I’ve seen many players perform here, the likes of Jordan Siebatcheu, Cédric Fauré and Diego. Nobody could experience what I’m going through like I do. This is my city. I’m playing at home, in front of my family and friends. It’s magnificent.”


Spanish coach Oscar Garcia has been careful to manage Ekitike’s game time, starting him 10 times in the league with seven appearances off the bench. The teenager has netted four times as a substitute, more than any other Ligue 1 Uber Eats player, but is equally effective when starting matches and credits Garcia with helping him improve. Ekitike commented: “He’s made me progress and has taught me to play for the team.”


Micoud: "He reminds me of Trezeguet"


Scoring so many goals as a teenager has inevitably seen Ekitike compared to Kylian Mbappé but former France playmaker Johan Micoud sees seimilarities with another former Monaco star: “It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a player with a style such as his. The way he moves and the way he runs reminds me of a great player, David Trezeguet.”


Ekitike’s game is coming on in leaps and bounds but if there is one area that requires immediate improvement it is his discipline. Sent off in the league defeat at Lens at the start of October, he was also dismissed at Thaon on January 2, starting the year in the worst possible way as he received his marching orders six minutes after coming on. He took to social media to apologise: “I made a massive mistake and I would like to apologise to my team-mates for having abandoned them in the challenge and to the fans who have backed us through thick and thin since the start. You learn throughout your career and your life and this won’t happen again.”

>> TRANSFERS: All the winter moves!

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