How This Footballer Became Africa’s First Cognac Maker

I don’t do this to impress people. I love this work and want to go as far as I can

via Pan African Vision

When we think of an athlete, naturally we think of their sport. They’re known for competing, for their accomplishments and their success in their field.

But athletes do in fact have lives outside of sports. When they’re not training or competing, they have hours to dedicate to other passions and hobbies. We often don’t see that side of athletes, and might not even know of their interests off the field.

Olivier Tébily was born in 1975 in Côte d’Ivoire; he was an international football champion with an unbelievable successful career.

After years of his career, he decided to hang up his shoes and start a new life. Tébily decided to spend this second life to realize his long time dream; to become the first African wine grower and to produce his own cognac “Source deux vie” as a tribute to his country.

His passion and determination have allowed him to successfully enter in this small and specialized market. “Source deux vie” is a new entrant in the cognac world.

Communality, simplicity, passion, and determination are the values that Olivier Tébilybelieves in and because he traveled around the world due to his football career, he brought these great values with him and are now the basis for this new and successful life as a special tribute to Côte d’Ivoire and to his heritage.

Former 41-year-old Birmingham City defender bought his first vineyard in his late teens.

While standing among the vines of the south-western French village of Salles-d’Angles, Tebily told BBC,

“When I signed my first professional contract, I bought two hectares.”

“I said to myself: ‘If I get an injury and football stops, I will have something to carry on with.'”

“I did that because I used to work on this land to get a little bit of pocket money to go on holiday – to the seaside with my friends – before turning professional.”

“It’s really difficult to become a professional so I bought this straight away to insure myself.”

His journey into Cognac making started in 1993 after signing for French Niort, just an hour drive from Poiters, a city on the edge of Cognac region and where his parents relocated when he was a toddler.

The game took him to Chateauroux and Sheffield United, to the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations, a Scottish treble in 2001 and a four-year Premier League adventure with Birmingham.

He returned to the vineyards after a a bad injury, but was faced with expensive land sought after land.  Never deterred, Tebily was determine to find a solution.  While running two local restaurants his neighbor’s son passed.  The neighbor was a Cognac farmer and decided to sell his business to Tebily.  He says

“His son was my friend and we had the same name – it’s maybe because of that that he chose me.”

“Around here, all the winemakers are the same,” explains the now-retired Jean-Michel Lepine.

“Because I liked football and because Olivier was not unpleasant to me and helped me in tough times – because I’ve had tough times – I said why not a black man to take over my property? Why not a footballer?

“I never changed my mind, even though many people tried to stop me.”

The first African Cognac maker became owner of the vineyard and created his own brand called, CognacOT.

“The local people were really, really surprised by an African footballer trying to do what they are doing,” says Tebily, who played for Ivory Coast between 1999-2004.

“But I work Monday to Sunday and people are really surprised – they didn’t think I would do this work because it’s really hard.

“But I don’t do this to impress people. I love this work and want to go as far as I can,” he adds, proclaiming a love of the outdoors.

via MoneyWeek

“I am already selling to some restaurants in Africa, in Ivory Coast. It’s not as much as I want but I’m still happy because it’s the beginning and it’s working.”

On being the only Africa Cognac maker,

“It makes me feel really, really happy and that’s why I am fighting to do my business correctly. I try because I am passionate. I love this like I loved football.”

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