There are few things Motherwell fans love more than a player who is committed to the cause, hard and a bit silky!
Having witnessed a revolving door of underwhelming defenders the previous year, few held out much hope for this untested youngster from Paris in 2017.
But Cedric Kipre had played in the same PSG youth team as Moussa Dembele and was highly thought of at title-winning Leicester City. This was his opportunity for him to thrive in a first-team environment.
The Fir Park faithful were quick to take the youngster to their hearts.
As Stephen Robinson developed his swashbuckling ‘Well side – Kipre fitted right in. Playing at the heart of a no-nonsense defence, Kipre’s tough demeanor coupled with confidence on the ball saw him become an iconic figure.
He may only have spent one season in Lanarkshire – but what a time it was. With two runs to Cup Finals, the fans never missed an opportunity to chant their new favorite’s name.
How did he end up in Scotland?
Robinson’s remit at Motherwell was to cleanse the squad of deadwood and create a clear playing identity.
Long-standing fan-favorites were moved on or deployed elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Northern Irish boss populated Fir Park with a young, hungry group of players.
Kipre, then 20, was part of a posse of defenders who rocked up in ML1 that summer.
Leicester rated him highly but knew he wouldn’t quite the clout to squeeze his way into a Premier League winning team.
The Foxes sent Kipre on a one-month loan to Corby Town as an 18-year-old.
After playing three games, Corby boss Tommy Wright said: “Cedric looked the real deal. He was a breath of fresh air.”
Kipre seamlessly slotted into Motherwell’s robust back-three and showed that he had potential to kick on from Fir Park.
Why did the fans love him so much?
Motherwell are Scottish football’s eternal underdogs. Despite Kipre’s obvious talent, there was a vulnerability and rawness about him that fans lapped up.
The Steelmen played Celtic a staggering five times that season and few of the meetings passed without incident.
Kipre equipped himself well in high-profile matches but was occasionally exploited by streetwise, experienced players – namely Celtic’s Scott Sinclair and Scott Brown.
In the 2017 League Cup Final, Sinclair dropped like a stone to win a penalty from a Kipre challenge. A few months later, Brown made the most of a tussle with the defender to get him sent off.
He was also at the midst of controversy after a hard challenge which ended Rangers star Ryan Jack’s season.
Motherwell’s core value is to develop people – and Kipre embodied this. He was a young, talented player with a bright future ahead of him. Yet, it was clear that he was somewhat of a rough diamond who needed some guidance.
What moment cemented his cult-hero status?
Nicknamed ‘Breadric’ due to his love of carbohydrates, this ‘outstanding’ catchphrase is still regularly used by Motherwell fans as a Gif on Twitter.
There wasn’t one particular moment which wrote the former Leicester rookie into Fir Park’s history books.
As a Parisian who came through the ranks at some of Europe’s biggest academies – you’d almost have expected him to look down his nose at the prospect of turning out in front of 4000 fans at the earthy Fir Park.
But it was the opposite. Kipre was taken aback by the fact that he was held in such high regard by the Motherwell faithful.
And the love in wasn’t a one way street. In 2020, the former Fir Park hero was spotted wearing his old ‘Well top on his summer holidays.
What is he doing now?
With Kipre’s pedigree and untapped potential, ‘Well fans were braced to lose their hero that summer.
But they thought they had got away with it as he returned for pre-season and played in some friendlies.
Eventually though, Kipre wandered down the well-travelled path to Championship side Wigan Athletic. The Steelmen scooped a ‘significant’ fee plus add-ons.
Kipre hailed the Fir Park fans as he left, saying: “Motherwell will always have a special place in my heart and I’ll be cheering the team on wherever I am.”
The former PSG youth would go on to make 74 appearances for The Latics.
Any ‘Well fan will tell you that Kipre had the potential to reach the very top of the game. In August 2020, he was given another shot at Premier League stardom with West Brom.
The Ivory Coast Under-23 cap didn’t make a Premier League appearance for the Baggies prior to their relegation to the Championship. He enjoyed a brief loan spell at Belgian side Charleroi last year.
Now, Kipre is a squad player at mid-table West Brom. You can’t help but feel that there is another gear in the talented defender, if he was to find the right club.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.