African All Stars

Yassine Bounou: Sevilla goalkeeper names Messi and Ronaldo as toughest opponents

23:05 EAT 14/02/2022
Bonou, Messi, Ronaldo
The Atlas Lion admitted he endured a sweltering time against the Portugal and Argentina internationals in the Spanish top flight

Morocco international and Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou said Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are his toughest opponents since his move to Spain.

The African was recently voted by fans as the first winner of the newly introduced La Liga Santander Mid-Season African MVP Award, beating Samuel Chukwueze and compatriot Youssef En-Nesyri to the diadem.

Bounou has pitted his wits against some of the world's best strikers and wingers in a career that has spanned 13 years, and he claimed that the former Barcelona and Real Madrid superstars gave him his most difficult tests.

Compelled to name the hardest opponent he has faced, the 30-year-old told GOAL during a media parley organised by La Liga:

“In the Spanish league, we are fortunate enough to have great players.

“I have had to face [Lionel] Messi, [Cristiano] Ronaldo and lots of great players, really good forwards and strikers.

“So, when you have these players [Messi and Ronaldo] in front of you, you really have to be ready to see what can happen.”

Thanks to his blistering performances for the Los Nervionenses, Bounou is a strong contender for the Zamora Trophy – an award that goes to the goalkeeper who has the lowest goals-to-games ratio.

Should he walk home with the individual accolade, the Moroccan would be the first Sevilla player to win that diadem. Notwithstanding, the Europa League winner seems to be thinking of other ideas.

“The most important thing is to continue to improve so that Sevilla can find its very best version of Bounou and I feel think by doing that, maybe I could win prizes,” he continued.

“My main objective is to be the goalkeeper that Sevilla needs and winning [the Zamora trophy] is something extra.

“I am thinking about the team needs and not personal needs.

“One day when I was talking to [Thibaut] Courtois, he said to me that: ‘are you going to win the Zamora prize because you are in the running?’, then I said ‘I would rather win La Liga that the Zamora prize’ because it makes everyone feel so much better.

“Courtois is used to winning and winning the Zamora prize is nothing new to him, anyway I would prefer to win the league because someday people would say, ‘he was the champion of the league or the Europa League’.

“People remember what the clubs have done and not personal awards.”

Following an impressive youth career at Wydad Casablanca, the Canada-born shot-stopper was snapped up by Atletico Madrid on June 14, 2012.

Due to his inability to break into the first team at Wanda Metropolitano, he was shipped to Real Zaragoza on loan before securing a permanent move to Girona.

The White and Reds got demoted to Spanish second tier in the 2018-19 campaign, and that inspired the Atlas Lion to join Sevilla.