On Friday Wigan Athletic announced the signing of Cedric Kipre from Motherwell on a three-year contract. The fee was not disclosed but reports suggest it could reach £1m including add-ons. The 21-year-old is the third Motherwell player to sign for Latics in the last 20 years following on from Lee McCulloch and Steve McMillan.
On signing the 6 ft 3 in tall player Paul Cook commented: “Cedric is a strong, powerful and athletic defender, who we have been monitoring some time. He is at a great age to develop his game after a really good season with Motherwell and I am looking forward to working with him.”
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson opined: “Although it’s with a heavy heart that we lose Cédric, his progress over the last year has been remarkable and it’s little wonder English Championship clubs have been circling. He has the potential to go all the way to the top in my opinion and we very much wish him well in his future career. He will always be welcome back at Fir Park.”
Kipre went on to make his Latics debut against Sheffield Wednesday the following day, looking calm and assured at the centre of defence.
Cedric Kipre was born in Paris of Ivorian parents and played youth football at Paris St Germain. At the age of 17 he joined Leicester City, playing for their U18 and U21 teams in his first season. He next played for the U23 side but could not break into the senior squad. In September 2015 Kipre went on a month’s loan to Corby Town in the National League North, making an impressive debut against Boston United. Manager Tommy Wright commented “Cedric looked the real deal. He was strong, powerful, very good technically on the ball and he was a breath of fresh air.” Kipre went on to play two more games for the Steelmen.
In the summer of 2017 after being released from Leicester Kipre went to Motherwell for a trial, impressing enough to be offered a one-year contract. He became a regular starter for his new club, which had a successful season in finishing in 7th place and reaching the finals of the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup. Kipre made 49 appearances for the Steelmen, together with a debut for Ivory Coast U-23 side in March 2018 against Togo.
In order to learn more about Kipre’s time at Motherwell we contacted Andrew Paterson of the Steelmen Online site (https://www.steelmenonline.co.uk).
Here’s over to Andrew:
We knew it would happen. We knew he would go. We just hoped we’d have him with us for a little bit longer.
If that reads almost obituary like it kind of feels like it is. Our Cédric. Gone! If only to pastures new thankfully rather than the big fitba pitch in the sky.
So what can I can tell you about Cédric?
Well, in truth when he lined up on trial in pre-season last summer it was his compatriot Bira Dembele who actually impressed more and there was a tinge of disappointment when he elected to return to France rather than join us.
How much truth there was in Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson’s claim some months later that he was always going to sign Cédric I don’t know, but there’s more than one of our support who think back and breathe a sigh of relief that Motherwell couldn’t meet Dembele’s financial demands.
It would be fair to say that Kipré’s rise in prominence was rapid.
The thought was that he would settle into life in Scotland in Motherwell’s U20 side and perhaps as the season progressed he might breakthrough with the odd appearance here and there. In fact he played more minutes in domestic games in Scotland than any other top flight player.
Initially signing on a one year contract it was immediately apparent that the club had to tie him down on a longer deal and just weeks into the 2017’18 season he had signed an extension on better terms. It would be extended again in April 2018.
Cédric settled into Scottish football instantly. From the minute he was given his opportunity against Queen’s Park at Hampden in the League Cup he never looked back.
His stature meant he wouldn’t be outmuscled by anybody but there is more to his game than just physicality and bodying opponents. He has pace too and applied it occasionally to get himself and his team-mates out of trouble and also when demonstrating his willingness to bring the ball forward whenever an opportunity arose.
At just twenty-one there are still flaws in his game of course. He was on occasion susceptible to a losing track of a long aerial ball hit over the top but over the piece it was incredible to think we were watching a player that hadn’t played a single first team game before signing for us.
It was more than just his footballing ability that endeared Kipré to the Motherwell support though. We are fortunate that the media team at Fir Park are absolutely terrific in bringing us insights about our team. Over the course of the season we warmed to a young guy who was quiet, unassuming and humble. A boy who could laugh at himself and was never slow in getting involved in team bonding activities.
He quickly became a huge fans favourite and it’s sad to think that never again are the Motherwell Bois likely to launch into a rendition of the Kipré, Kipré” war cry. A chant he even sang himself when he featured on “Up the ‘Well” a club song reproduced by local band The Banter Thiefs to mark Motherwell reaching the Scottish Cup Final.
Memories? Plenty. It remains a travesty he was red-carded in the League Cup Final against Celtic and his further red-card against the same opposition was equally ridiculous. We’ll remember fondly his single goal for the club against Dundee where the celebrations amongst supporters were going on a good few minutes after the game had re-started. He had threatened to score a few times so when he did everyone was just ecstatic to see him finally do it.