Hibs' Elie Youan opens up on boss' WhatsApp messages, being a chef and makes bold Hearts-Zurich claim
"I think he’s a top player. It was interesting to see Boyle in training – he was like, wow, who is this? This guy’s unreal. He has all the attributes. If he improves his football IQ, I could see him having a very wealthy life in his retirement.”
Lee Johnson had just finished talking about Elie Youan in his pre-match press conference. The forward set up Martin Boyle for Hibs’ equaliser against Hearts last Sunday, a snapshot of what the St Gallen loanee can bring to the club this season. It is clear that the Easter Road boss believes the 23-year-old can develop into a top player.
Youan, put up for press afterwards ahead of Saturday’s Premiership trip to Livingston, smiled bashfully when Johnson’s comments about being a rich man were put to him. “First of all, thanks to him for saying that,” the Frenchman said. “Before I knew some managers and they were all similar about my strengths because I run a lot and I am fast. So I was used to hearing that. But this gaffer is different, he is really interested in me, about football and also outside of football, he is interested in my private life and that’s the biggest difference between him and other managers I have had.”
Johnson is doing everything he can to get the best out of Youan, which includes WhatsApp messages away from training. Johnson comes across as an extremely personable manager and Youan confirmed this by explaining just how he is looked after by Johnson.
“I have a good relationship with the gaffer and I know when I want to talk about something I can go to his office,” continued Youan. “It’s always open.
“The [WhatsApp] messages are not always about football. It’s often about other things. He knows me well now and he knows I’m a good player but he’s also interested in my life outside football. But we naturally also talk about football.”
Youan is softly spoken but is already well-liked in the dressing-room, and his popularity is likely to increase when he dons his chef’s hat at East Mains. He won’t be eating macaroni and chips, Boyle’s unintentional pre-match meal ahead of last weekend’s derby, but is on hand to nourish the rest of the dressing-room.
“I don’t like macaroni but I like to make it as a gift for people!” he laughed. “I gave a gift to all the staff of macaroni from France but I don’t eat macaroni.
“I am a good cook. My speciality is African food. My parents are from the Ivory Coast.
“My favourite dish to make would be plaintain, which is banana. I’ve not made it for the staff yet but I will cook for them one day.”
Speaking of Boyle, Youan was asked who is the quickest of the two. “Me, of course,” he replied with confidence.
Youan was also quizzed on city rivals Hearts’ chances of overcoming Zurich in the Europa League play-off round. His response was perhaps a little surprising.
“For me, Hearts are stronger than Zurich physically but technically I think Zurich are better than them,” added Youan, who has experience of playing against the Swiss champions from his time at St Gallen.
“It will be a good game. But for me, Hearts will beat them.”