A day in the life of Presnel Kimpembe

A day in the life of Presnel Kimpembe

Interviews

Words Matthieu Morge-Zucconi

Translated by Sébastien de Turenne

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The PSG and French national team defender talks tattoos, hair dye and and secret perfume.

Out of the entire team of 2018 FIFA World Champions, Presnel Kimpembe is undoubtedly the player we feel like we know the most. The 24-year-old’s Instagram stories – wireless speaker in hand – and his solid performance on the pitch have awarded the PSG and French national team defender a fair amount of attention and respect. He welcomed us in a Versace shirt to discuss a wide range of topics, from hair dyeing, to tattoos, and – you guessed it – football.

Hello Presnel. Could you introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Presnel Kimpembe. I grew up in the Val d’Oise area, just outside of Paris. I’m 24 years old, and I’m a professional football player for PSG.

Could you walk us through a typical training day?

It really depends on the training schedule, which often changes. I’ll wake up, hop in the shower, get ready and head out to train. Once I get to the training grounds, I’ll change, have breakfast, and then start an honest day’s work.

Right, and how exactly is this day organised?

First, I’ll see the physios. Then comes the stretching and mobility exercises, before conditioning. That’s followed by a training session with the ball, back to conditioning, some care and an ice bath to recover. Then it’s lunchtime, and you’re free to do whatever you want; well not whatever, but you get it. During pre-season, it’s a bit different, we each start preparing on our side, and then we get together to start the season after the break. Training with the team is generally more intense. More running, more cardio, more conditioning; proper grafting.

What do you do when you're not on the training ground?

I like to go back to Eragny, which is where I grew up. I’ll go and visit my friends and my family. Outside of training, I’m not really into watching TV, football games, etc. I’m a bit of an outsider when it comes to that

At what time do you wake up?

7:45 a.m. I’ll have my breakfast at the club. Generally, it’s some bread, butter, a slice of cheese and an omelette, you know trying to keep a balanced diet and all that. (laughs).

You take a lot of pride in the way you look. How important is that to you?

Super important. Do you like the hair? If you like it, it’s all good. I wanted to go for grey, but it didn’t turn out right. It’s my image, it’s what I show people, a reflection of who I am. I like to look clean, dressed to impress. Obviously, I don’t show up to train every day in jeans, but I have to like the way I look.

You dye your hair quite a lot. What determines the choice of colour?

The weather, mostly. When the sun’s shining, I tend to go for lighter colours: white, blond, grey. Heading into winter, as the weather starts to get cold, I’ll add a little red and blue. I’ve already tried a bunch of stuff. I started dyeing my hair when I was 13. At first, I’d go slowly, you know how it is. I’d do just the tips, that kind of thing. Then I started dyeing my hair blond, then white, and grey… That was followed by some red, some blue, a bit of purple. You’ve got to try different combinations out, right?

Doesn’t it damage your hair, though?

That’s what people say, yes. But if you take care of your hair, you’re golden. I’m the living proof of that. I have several hair care products. I don’t use the same products when my hair is short as when it’s long. I tend to take less care of my hair when it’s short. It’s much more practical in the morning, it’s quicker, I don’t even have to touch it. As far as damaging it, let’s just say I trust my hair. Based on the family genes, I can already tell you I’ll never go bald.

Do you wash your hair every day?

I do. I use nourishing hair care products, for dry and curly hair.

Do you bring your own products to the dressing room, or do you use whatever the club provides?

I have my own toiletry bag, with everything I need in it: moisturisers, hair care, deodorant, and even perfume. I can’t even tell you the fragrance’s name, but it’s amazing. I have a bottle in my car right now. I stole it from Thilo (editor’s note: Thilo Kehrer is a defender who plays for PSG with Presnel). One day he walked by me and I caught his fragrance. It smelled incredibly good. I asked him what it was, and he showed me the bottle. You probably think I’m exaggerating, but this fragrance is unbelievable. I can’t show you, though. If I do, you’ll have to promise to keep it a secret, and tell no one. No idea what the brand is, but the smell… Thilo mate, I’m never changing, you might have to find a new perfume! You can’t even find it on the Internet.

Wow, serious business, then. Switching topics, it looks like you have a lot of tattoos. Do you know exactly how many?

In all honesty, I have too many to count. Both arms are fully covered, both hands, too. I try to not have too many done at once because I’d quickly run out of space (laughs). My tattoos represent something, they all have a meaning to me. I’m not going to get a football tattooed on me because I play football for a living, you know?

How do you take care of all this ink?

You have to be careful at first, during the healing period. You have to stay out of the sun, sea, and all that. Once they’ve healed, tattoos don’t require that much care.

How do you find a balance between your career as a pro footballer, family life, and requests for interviews and such?

As soon as I leave the training grounds or a game, I completely switch off. On the other hand, when I’m playing, I give it everything, no distractions. When I’m chilling with my friends in the ends, that’s all I’m doing. Same goes for my family. To everything there is a season. It’s important to put things in perspective. I love football, and I’m fortunate enough to make a living out of it. That being said, you won’t catch me watching games all the time. Obviously, when I’m about to play another team, I’ll watch the tape to understand who I’m up against, but I really don’t try to stay on top of everything that’s happening in the football world. That’s just the way I am. I need to be able to switch off at some point, otherwise I feel like my head is going to implode. Some players like to follow every game, me not so much. That’s what works best for me.

Spending time on your social media accounts is a way of switching off too, right? Because you only rarely talk about football on them.

Yes. It’s a good way to get my mind off things, to think of something else. It’s also an excellent way to show people that we have a life outside of football, with friends, a family, and hobbies. It’s very important for people who have the same background as me. I left my parent’s home when I was 12 or 13. When you’ve been training your entire life, you really miss having a social life. Of course, there’s the social life that comes with having teammates, you know dressing room camaraderie, but it’s not quite the same. Social life outside of ‘work’ is what keeps you grounded.

What’s a typical match day like?

It’s similar to a training day, except that you end up sitting in the dressing room, and the atmosphere there is different. Everyone is focused, in their zone. There’s a lot of music, with some players listening to the music played in the dressing room while others put on their headphones to concentrate.

What do you prefer? Music played on a speaker, like you did during the World Cup?

I’m more of a headphone guy myself. I have a few songs that will get me in the zone. It depends on the match and my mood. French rap always does the job. Something aggressive, a good tune that makes you want to punch someone in the face by French rapper Fianso is perfect. Gets me ready to go to war.

Speaking of punching, you’re known for your fighting spirit on the pitch. Is that a trait that translates into the rest of your life, too?

Speaking of punching, you’re known for your fighting spirit on the pitch. Is that a trait that translates into the rest of your life, too?

You’re still very young, with most of your career still ahead of you. Do you think about the future much? Have you got any plans?

As you said yourself, right now I’m still young. I have football and a team to assist me. I don’t consider myself a real businessman, and I still tend to approach projects on a short-term basis. It will probably change as I get older!

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