Jonathan Zongo: Ex-Burkina Faso winger retires after broken presidential promise

Jonathan ZongoGetty

Jonathan Zongo has been forced to retire from football following the knee injury he sustained while on Burkina Faso duty in January 2017, the player has confirmed, while also acknowledging that he can no longer walk pain-free or climb the stairs without being in discomfort.

In Burkina Faso's second game of the Africa Cup of Nations, the winger ruptured all the ligaments of his knee while trying to stop a counter-attack by Denis Bouanga in the 50th minute, and was subsequently replaced by Bertrand Traore four minutes later.

After the incident, Burkina Faso president Roch Kabore had offered to pay for his medical expenses but has not yet kept his promise.

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“I am going back to Burkina Faso and the President of the Republic, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, receives me and announces that he will pay all these costs,” Zongo told L'Equipe.

“In Badalone, the pitch was synthetic and after a game my knee didn't hold. I was in too much pain. Today I can't walk without pain and I struggle to climb stairs.”

Through bravery and hard work, the Burkina Faso star did everything to resume his career in 2019, however, his painful knee stopped him from progressing.

“Heart, sweat and honour: that's what you asked me to do and that's what I gave. I had a modest career, full of emotions. I don't remember making an enemy,” he wrote on Instagram.

“I am anticipating the end of my career for very important reasons. You're aware of my injury at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. In the last four years, I have suffered from one operation to another, from one leg to another, from one muscle to another, these pains have pushed me to end my career today.

“I thank God and a big thank you to my family, to the people of Burkina Faso, to all the clubs that have trusted me, to all my teammates, to the supporters and to all those who have participated in one way or another in my career.”

The talented winger began his career in his hometown Ouagadougou as a 20-year-old in 2009 and spent a season there before moving to Spain to join Almeria.

Initially assigned to the reserve team in Segunda Division B, his impressive performances saw him promoted to the A team, where he made his Andalusians debut as a second-half substitute for Nigeria’s Kalu Uche against Deportivo La Coruna in a Copa del Rey clash.

Zongo made his international debut for the Stallions in a 2-1 away win against Morocco. His first goal came as an equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Senegal. Before injury cut his promising career short, he had accounted for 22 games for Burkina Faso with two games to his credit.

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