CHARLOTTE — Charlotte FC is still looking for its first win, but the team has the talent to get one.
Their roster includes one of the brightest young athletes from France -- Adilson Malanda.
If you see a 6 foot 3 inch Frenchman cruising around Uptown Charlotte on an electric bike, you’re probably one of the lucky ones who get to cross paths with Malanda -- a rising star defender for Charlotte FC.
“I’m a simple guy, so I live maybe 10 minutes from the [Bank of America Stadium],” he told Channel 9′s Phil Orban. “So I like it, I take my bicycle in the morning to see the city life.”
Malanda, just 21 years old, finds cruising around the city to be the best way to learn his way around Charlotte.
"We want to impose our game, our identity and for us looking forward is always the best way to do what we want to do."— Charlotte FC (@CharlotteFC) March 17, 2023
Malanda on the team mentality 🧠 pic.twitter.com/SEKQaSOc4l
“I like to discover the city by myself and this is the best thing to do it,” he said. “You are completely free.”
Always at home on the pitch, Malanda is now feeling more and more comfortable in his adopted hometown of Charlotte, having moved here last summer from France knowing next to nothing about the Queen City.
“I saw on the internet before, yes I tried to learn a little bit about the city. But crazy because it was my first time in the U.S.,” he said.
Its hard not to like Malanda, both for his play and for his personality. A quick smile and improving English contradict the reality of what was a challenging situation -- dropping into a new country with no friends, no family, and only football.
“Why not, you know?” he said. “Sometimes we need to discover other things. It was an adventure, new goal, new objective, new life.”
Malanda has embraced his new home -- discovering a love for southern barbecue as well as southern hospitality.
“I like to speak to other people here because you feel the happiness, you feel the joy, and it’s very cool,” he said.
And speaking with Malanda, you feel the same joy -- just a kid living his dream.
“When you come in the new club, new city, new country, you want to be at your highest level,” he said. “So you try just to stay yourself, and I think I did.”
Charlotte FC plays Saturday against Orlando City.
(WATCH BELOW: Charlotte FC fans excited in Uptown for home-opener)
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