Steven Nkemboanza Mike Christopher Nzonzi (born 15 December 1988) is a French professional footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder for French club Rennes, on loan from Italian club Roma, and the French national team.
|Full name||Steven Nkemboanza Mike Christopher Nzonzi|
|Date of birth||15 December 1988|
|Place of birth||La Garenne-Colombes, France|
|Height||1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)|
|Playing position(s)||Defensive midfielder|
(on loan from Roma)
|2019–2020||→ Galatasaray (loan)||10||(0)|
|2020–||→ Rennes (loan)||0||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 00:42, 9 January 2020 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 20 November 2018
He began his career with Ligue 2 side Amiens, impressing enough to earn a move to Premier League side Blackburn Rovers in 2009 for £650,000. He spent three years at Ewood Park which ended with Rovers being relegated at the end of the 2011–12 season. He remained in the Premier League however, joining Stoke City for £3 million. At Stoke, Nzonzi established himself as a key member of the squad under Tony Pulis and then under Mark Hughes, where his performances during the 2014–15 earned him the Player of the Year award. He joined Spanish side Sevilla for a fee of £7 million in July 2015, and won the UEFA Europa League in his first season.
Nzonzi represented France at under-21 level. He turned down the chance to represent his ancestral DR Congo at senior international level, and was unsuccessful in his attempt to become eligible to play for England. In November 2017, he made his debut for the senior France squad, and he was part of their team that won the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Born in La Garenne-Colombes, France, to a Congolese father and French mother, he began his career playing for hometown club Racing Paris. In 1999, he joined the youth system of Paris Saint-Germain playing at the Camp des Loges, the club's youth academy. While at Paris Saint-Germain, Nzonzi, due to his height, was initially installed in the club's academy as a striker and then as an attacking midfielder. After a three-year stint at the Ligue 1 club, he moved to the Basse-Normandie region joining CA Lisieux. He later had one-year stints at both SM Caen and AS Beauvais Oise before finally settling in with Amiens SC in 2005.
After featuring in the Championnat de France amateur 2 for his first two years at the club, Nzonzi made his professional debut on 24 November 2007 in a Coupe de France match against amateur club AS Raismes appearing as a substitute in the 74th minute, Amiens won the match 7–0. He earned his first start on 15 April 2008 playing the entire 90 minutes in a 1–0 loss to Bastia. Following the season, he signed his first professional contract and was officially promoted to the senior team.
Nzonzi was given the starting defensive midfielder role for the 2008–09 season and appeared in 36 total matches. He also scored his first professional goal in a 2–1 defeat to Strasbourg on 8 May 2009. The defeat to Strasbourg led to Amiens going winless in their final four matches, which led to the club suffering relegation to the Championnat National, France's third division of football. Despite the relegation, Nzonzi was applauded for his play and he was linked with a move to the English Premier League, with Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth showing a serious interest in the young Frenchman, who many hailed as the next Patrick Vieira.
On 15 August 2009, Nzonzi made his debut for Blackburn where he made his first start in a 2–0 loss against Manchester City and since making his debut, found himself very much part of Sam Allardyce's plans. He scored his first goal for Rovers on 4 October 2009 against Arsenal in the 6–2 defeat. After scoring his first goal, Nzonzi admitted he had been surprised at how quickly he had established himself in the side but was determined to keep his place in the starting XI. His second goal for the club was a 30-yard strike against Everton on 17 April 2010 in a 3–2 defeat at Ewood Park. On 3 May 2010, during the pre-match build up to the Arsenal game, he was announced as the Blackburn Rovers Player of the Year for the 2009–10 season, chosen by the fans.
In August 2010, Nzonzi signed a new five-year deal with Blackburn, lasting until summer 2015. Rovers chairman John Williams said: "We are delighted to secure Steven for the long term. He was outstanding last year and the new deal is richly deserved." On 21 August 2011, Nzonzi scored his third goal for Blackburn with a header against Birmingham City in a 2–1 defeat at St Andrew's. Soon after Nzonzi found himself dropping down the pecking order as a result of both Phil Jones and Vince Grella's form in midfield. This led Allardyce urged him to raise his game and recapture his form of last season. Later on in his second season, Allardyce was sacked and replaced by Steve Kean. On 2 April 2011, Nzonzi received his first red card of his career in a 0–0 draw against Arsenal two-footed challenge on Laurent Koscielny. Nzonzi was banned for 4 matches and on 30 April 2011, Nzonzi made his return in a 1–0 win over Bolton Wanderers.
On 26 November 2011 against Stoke City, Nzonzi was hit with a violent conduct charge for intentionally elbowing Ryan Shawcross in the face. Nzonzi served a three-match ban after admitting an FA charge of violent conduct. On 11 February 2012, Nzonzi scored his first goal of the season and set up a goal for the club top scorer Yakubu in a 3–2 win over Queens Park Rangers. On 24 March 2012, Nzonzi scored his second goal of the season in a 2–1 loss against Bolton Wanderers. At the end of the season, Blackburn were relegated for the first time in 11 seasons and Nzonzi told manager Steve Kean he wanted to leave.
On 31 August 2012, Nzonzi joined Stoke City for a fee of £3 million. He made his debut for Stoke in a 1–1 draw at home to Manchester City on 15 September 2012 and his performance earned him the man of the match award. Impressed with Nzonzi's start to his Stoke career manager Tony Pulis believes that he will one day play in the Champions League. Nzonzi was sent off for a "studs-up" challenge on Jack Cork in a 3–3 draw with Southampton on 29 December 2012. However no contact was made with Cork and Pulis decided to appeal Mark Clattenburg's decision. His red card was later rescinded by the FA. After reacting angrily to suffering a broken nose against Fulham, Nzonzi was told to keep his temperament in check by assistant manager David Kemp. He scored his first goal for Stoke in a 2–1 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur on 12 May 2013. He ended the 2012–13 season having made 38 appearances for the club but once the campaign had come to an end he revealed that he was unhappy at the club and handed in a transfer request. His request was rejected by the club.
Under new manager Mark Hughes, Nzonzi remained at Stoke going into the 2013–14 and he produced a man of the match performance against West Ham United on 31 August 2013. However, after this his performances dropped off and assistant manager Mark Bowen advised Nzonzi to stop his 'theatrical sulks'. On 23 November 2013 he scored and provided an assist in a 2–0 win over Sunderland. He was sent-off in the return fixture against Sunderland on 29 January 2014. After serving his suspension Nzonzi spent time on the bench much to his frustration. He returned to the starting line-up and scored in a 4–1 win over Aston Villa on 23 March 2014. He played 40 times for Stoke in 2013–14 as the team finished in 9th position and Nzonzi stated that he is happy playing for Stoke under Mark Hughes. However he handed in a transfer request for a second season running. A move away from Stoke in the summer transfer window did not materialise, despite this Nzonzi insisted he is happy to carry on playing for Stoke.
Nzonzi was an ever-present in 2014–15, playing 42 times as Stoke finished in ninth position for a second consecutive campaign. He also scored a career best of four goals which were against Southampton, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and in a 6–1 victory over Liverpool on the final day of the season. Nzonzi's performances during the campaign earned him the Player of the Year award. In June 2015, with Nzonzi entering his final year on his contract, manager Mark Hughes tried to convince him to agree to sign a new contract. However his efforts were unsuccessful and the club 'reluctantly' accepted a £7 million offer from Sevilla. In total Nzonzi spent three seasons at Stoke making 120 appearances scoring seven goals.
On 9 July 2015, Nzonzi signed for Sevilla for a fee around the region of £7 million, on a four-year contract which includes a €30 million (£21.5m) buyout clause. On 22 August, he was sent off on his debut in a goalless draw at Málaga CF.
Nzonzi initially struggled with the immense heat in Andalusia, and a style of play based on retention of the ball and technical ability, but entered a period of good form in the second half of the season, culminating in Sevilla winning the UEFA Europa League final against Liverpool in Basel.
On 23 October 2016, his winning goal in a home victory over Atlético Madrid put his team briefly on top of the league. He was voted La Liga Player of the Month for January 2017, with the league's website writing "Often to be found in the thick of the action, Nzonzi showcased his aptitude for regaining possession and distributing the play, qualities which have seen him establish himself as one of the first names on Sampaoli's team sheet". On 14 March in the second leg of the last 16 of the Champions League, he had a penalty saved by Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel – as did teammate Joaquín Correa in the first leg – as Sevilla was eliminated 3–2 on aggregate.
On 14 August 2018, Nzonzi signed for Serie A club Roma for an initial fee of €26.65 million, plus performance-related clauses that could be worth an additional €4 million. He signed a four-year contract. He made his debut 13 days later in a 3–3 home draw with Atalanta, as a half-time substitute for Bryan Cristante with the team 3–1 down. ESPN FC's analysis named him as man of the match for "adding weight and muscle" to Roma's midfield. On 6 October, he scored his first goal for the Giallorossi, a header in a 2–0 victory at Empoli.
Nzonzi earned his first call up to the France U-21 team by coach Erick Mombaerts on 1 October 2009 for their European Under-21 Championship qualification matches against Malta and Belgium. He made his debut eight days later in the first match, appearing as a 58th-minute substitute for Younousse Sankharé in a 2–0 victory. He earned his first under-21 international start in the match against Belgium, which ended 0–0.
In January 2011 he was called up to the national football team of the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to his origins but he did not want to commit to the international team due to structural problems at the administrative level. He did not rule out playing for the Congolese national team in the future. He again turned DR Congo down in November 2012.
In August 2016, Nzonzi's father contacted new England manager Sam Allardyce – who had signed him for Blackburn in 2009 – to inquire whether he was eligible to represent England. Although he had completed more than the five years' necessary residency in the United Kingdom, Nzonzi was ineligible to switch allegiance as he was not eligible for England when he made his debut for France under-21.
On 2 November 2017, Nzonzi was called up to the French senior national team for the first time, for friendly matches against Germany and Wales. He made his debut against the Welsh in a 2–0 win at the Stade de France on 10 November, as a half-time substitute for Corentin Tolisso.
Nzonzi was part of France's squad that won the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. In the final, he came on as a substitute for the booked N'Golo Kanté after 55 minutes of a 4–2 win over Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Style of playEdit
Nzonzi plays in a defensive role in centre midfield and is noted for being calm and composed whilst in possession and having a good passing ability. He has earned comparisons to compatriot Patrick Vieira both in style and physical ability. He is also able to cover great distance during a match.
In September 2013 Nzonzi was interviewed by police after he was involved in a collision with a cyclist in Hale, Greater Manchester. In October 2015 Nzonzi was ordered to stand trial after allegedly assaulting his wife. He was cleared of the charges in December 2015.
Nzonzi has previously commented on the common misstyling of his name as Steven N'Zonzi.
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Blackburn Rovers||2009–10||Premier League||33||2||0||0||5||0||—||38||2|
|Stoke City||2012–13||Premier League||35||1||3||0||0||0||—||38||1|
- As of match played 20 November 2018
- Blackburn Rovers Player of the Year: 2009–10
- Stoke City Player of the Year: 2014–15
- UEFA Europa League Squad of the Season: 2015–16
- La Liga Player of the Month: January 2017
- "Champions League squad list submitted". A.S. Roma. 3 September 2018. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
- "FIFA World Cup Russia 2018: List of players: France" (PDF). FIFA. 15 July 2018. p. 11. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
- "S. Nzonzi: Summary". Soccerway. Perform Group. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
- "Sam Allardyce's attempt to hand Steven Nzonzi England squad call-up blocked by Fifa". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
- "Rovers Pursue Young 'Vieira'". Blackburncitizen.co.uk. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
- "Transfer Clockwatch". Skysports.com. 31 August 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
- "Blackburn sign midfielder N'Zonzi". BBC Sport. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "Arsenal 6–2 Blackburn". BBC Sport. 4 October 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
- "N'zonzi surprised by impact". Sky Sports. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
- "Sam – N'Zonzi must improve". Sky Sports. 21 September 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
- "Arsenal 0 – 0 Blackburn". BBC Sport. 2 April 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
- "Blackburn Rovers midfielder Steven Nzonzi banned for three matches". BBC Sport. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "Nzonzi admits FA charge". Sky Sports. 29 November 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
- "Blackburn 3–2 QPR". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- "Bolton 2–1 Blackburn". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- "Steven Nzonzi asks to leave Blackburn Rovers". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- "Nzonzi completes Stoke City move as Goodwillie leaves on loan". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- "Stoke tie up deals for Charlie Adam and Steven Nzonzi". BBC Sport. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "Stoke 1–1 Man City". Sky Sports. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "Steven Nzonzi set for Champions' League, says Tony Pulis". The Sentinel. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
- Shemilt, Stephan (29 December 2012). "Stoke 3 – 3 Southampton". BBC Sport. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
- Shemilt, Stephan (29 December 2012). "Tony Pulis frustrated by dismissal of Stoke's Steven Nzonzi". BBC Sport. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
- "Steven Nzonzi to have red card reviewed". The Sentinel. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
- "FA uphold Stoke appeal against Steven Nzonzi red card against Southampton". Sky Sports. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- "Dave Kemp urges Steven Nzonzi to keep temperament in check". The Sentinel. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- "Stoke 1–2 Tottenham". BBC Sport. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
- "Steven Nzonzi asks to leave Stoke City". The Sentinel. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- "Club Reject Nzonzi Request". Stoke City F.C. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- "Player Analysis: Steven N'Zonzi – A Symbol Of A New Style At Stoke?". squawka.com. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
- "Extra time: Should Stoke City drop Steven Nzonzi?". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Nzonzi advised to stop his theatrical sulks". Stoke Sentinel. Archived from the original on 18 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Steven Nzonzi takes influential performance in his stride". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
- "Sunderland 1–0 Stoke". BBC Sport. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
- "Steven Nzonzi not hiding frustration of spell on sidelines". Stoke Sentinel. Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
- "Aston Villa 1–4 Stoke". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- "'Potters can match my ambitions,' says Steven Nzonzi". Stoke Sentinel. Archived from the original on 13 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
- "Steven Nzonzi submits transfer request to Stoke City – his second in 12 months". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "Steven Nzonzi confirms he is happy to stay, despite summer transfer request". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
- "Games played by Steven Nzonzi in 2014/2015". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
- "Stoke 2–3 Southampton". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "Man United 2–1 Stoke". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "Stoke 3–0 Tottenham". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "Stoke 6–1 Liverpool". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "Nzonzi Steals The Show". Stoke City. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "Nzonzi Proud Of Coveted Awards". Stoke City. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "Mark Hughes ready to step into Steven Nzonzi battle". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- "Stoke City accept £7m bid from Sevilla for Steven N'Zonzi". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- "Mark Hughes – We tried hard to convince Steven Nzonzi to stay". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- "Steven N'Zonzi". Soccerbase. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- "Nzonzi Seals Sevilla Switch". Stoke City. 9 July 2015.
- "Steven Nzonzi: Stoke City sell midfielder to Sevilla for £7m". BBC. 9 July 2015.
- "Atl Madrid 1–0 Las Palmas". 22 August 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
- "Nzonzi". Sevilla FC. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Smith, Pete (11 May 2016). "Europa League final keeper David Soria: I had trial at Stoke City". Stoke Sentinel. Archived from the original on 12 May 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
- "Sevilla 1–0 Atlético Madrid". BBC Sport. 23 October 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
- "Steven N'Zonzi named LaLiga Santander Player of the Month for January". La Liga. 7 February 2017.
- Ronay, Barney (15 March 2017). "Kasper Schmeichel's Champions League brilliance confirms his rise to the elite". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
- "Steven Nzonzi completes Roma move". A.S. Roma. 14 August 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
- "Steven Nzonzi: Roma sign France's World Cup-winning midfielder from Sevilla". BBC Sport. 14 August 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
- Daley, Terry (27 August 2018). "Roma's middling effort rescued by 8/10 super-sub Steven N'zonzi". ESPN FC. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
- Gentile, Marco (6 October 2018). "La Roma soffre ma espugna Empoli: 0-2 firmato Nzonzi-Dzeko" [Roma suffer but defeat Empoli: 0-2 by Nzonzi and Dzeko]. Il Giornale (in Italian). Retrieved 2 November 2018.
- "NZONZI JOINS GALATASARAY ON INITIAL LOAN". A.S. Roma. 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
- "Nzonzi passa in prestito al Rennes" (in Italian). 31 January 2020.
- "Malta U21 0–2 France U21". Soccerway. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "RDC – Sélection : N'Zonzi, " Je ne ferme pas la porte "". Congo Sport. 2011. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
- "Nzonzi turns down DR Congo invitation". Super Sport. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
- "Stoke midfielder Nzonzi turns down DR Congo invitation". BBC Sport. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "Sam Allardyce reveals failed attempt to call up Steven N'Zonzi for England". The Guardian. 28 August 2016. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
- "Martial joins N'Zonzi & Pavard in France squad". Goal.com. 2 November 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
- "France 2–0 Wales: Youngsters shine briefly but classy Les Bleus show their World Cup credentials in Paris". Wales Online. 10 November 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- McNulty, Phil (15 July 2018). "France 4–2 Croatia". BBC Sport. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- "N'Zonzi is key". Sky Sports. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
- "Vieira talk flatters N'Zonzi". Sky Sports. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
- "Steven Nzonzi covers more miles than anyone else in Premier League". Stoke Sentinel. Archived from the original on 31 December 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- "Stoke City footballer Steven N'Zonzi quizzed by police over Hale 'bike crash'". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
- John Stevenson, 26 September 2013. "Good luck finding me on foreign plates" case passed to CPS. Driver of matt black Audi identified as Steven N'Zonzi by own team manager". Retrieved 27 September 2013.
- "Former midfielder Steven Nzonzi was in police custody during club's awards night". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- "Footballer Steven N'Zonzi to stand trial accused of assaulting wife". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- "Ex-Stoke City footballer Steven Nzonzi found not guilty of assault on wife". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
- "Steven Nzonzi s'écrit sans apostrophe" [Steven Nzonzi is written without an apostrophe]. L'Équipe (in French). 2 November 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- "Games played by Steven Nzonzi in 2009/2010". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
- "Games played by Steven Nzonzi in 2010/2011". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
- "Games played by Steven Nzonzi in 2011/2012". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
- "Games played by Steven Nzonzi in 2012/2013". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
- "Games played by Steven Nzonzi in 2013/2014". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
- "Games played by Steven Nzonzi in 2015/2016". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- "Steven Nzonzi – national football team player". EU-Football.info. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
- "Steven Nzonzi: Roma sign France's World Cup-winning midfielder from Sevilla". BBC. 14 August 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
- McNulty, Phil (15 July 2018). "France 4–2 Croatia". BBC. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
- "The Cryers: Blackburn Rovers player of the year". Lancashire Telegraph. 2 May 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
- "Nzonzi Steals The Show". Stoke City. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "UEFA Europa League Squad of the Season". UEFA. 20 May 2016.
- "Steven N'Zonzi named LaLiga Santander Player of the Month for January". La Liga. 7 February 2017.
- "Décret du 31 décembre 2018 portant promotion et nomination" [Decree of 31 December 2018 on promotion and appointment]. Journal Officiel de la République Française (in French). 2019 (0001). 1 January 2019. PRER1835394D. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Steven N'Zonzi.|
- Steven Nzonzi at Soccerbase