Koné to Watford FC: the Journey to Vicarage Road

The young Canadian international is on the yellow brick road to success.

I will first get the formalities out of the way. Koné has been transferred to Watford FC of the Championship (English 2nd division) by CF Montreal, the financial details of the transfer have not been made public yet. Watford is presently 4th in the standings and is eyeing one of the three possible spots to be promoted to the Premier League for the 2023-24 season.


Koné, 20 years old, played his first professional season this year with the Montreal outfit, 18 starts in 26 matches, 2 goals, 5 assists, 86% passing accuracy, and 25% of his attempts on target (6 out of 24) in Major League Soccer. He impressed even more in the playoffs with a game-winning goal against Orlando that propelled the Montrealers to the Conference semifinals versus New York City FC. He made his international debut for Canada last March against Costa Rica during the last phase of World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF. He scored his first goal for Les Rouges in a friendly against Bahrain on November 11th, during the build-up to the World Cup. At the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, Ismael played in 3 matches, representing his country of adoption during 109 minutes of play.

Ismael Koné vs Croatia at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. credit AP Darko Vojinovic

Born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on June 16th, 2002, Ismael Koné immigrated to Canada with his mother when he was 7 years old. He started honing his passion for the beautiful game on the humble pitches of Notre Dame de Grâce (NDG), where the Soccer Today headquarters are located, and quickly became a local legend.

Ismael Koné, #10, with NDG Soccer Association versus Étoiles de l’Est in 2018. credit: The Suburban

I still hear stories of him burning defenders and giving nightmares to goalkeepers at Trenholme Park from parents in my network, years after he left the neighborhood. He joined the Club de Soccer St-Laurent in 2018 to continue his development, and then joined the CF Montreal academy in 2020. He signed his first professional contract with CF Montreal’s first team on August 13th, 2021 and the rest is history.

Ismael Koné with CS St-Laurent in 2019. credit: Club de Soccer St-Laurent

His meteoric rise from amateur pitches to the World Cup in less than 4 years is what young kids’ dreams are made of, and he is a tremendous model for young soccer players everywhere. One of Ismael’s goals is to become the most famous soccer player to come out of the Province of Québec, and he is well on his way of achieving it.

Let’s watch our Rocket Man, on his way to the moon,

About Watford F.C.

Founded: 1881 (Watford Rovers), 1898 (Watford Football Club)

Stadium: Vicarage Road

Capacity: 22 200

Nicknames: “The Hornets”, “The Golden Boys”, “Yellow Army”, “The ‘Orns”

Manager: Slaven Bilic

League: EFL Championship (England second division)

Famous Players to have played for Watford: Troy Deeney, Luther Blissett

Famous Supporters: Elton John (he was even chairman from 1978 to 2002, seeing their rise through the Leagues in the 70s and 80s), Anthony Joshua, Geri Horner (Geri Halliwell, Spice Girls)

Biggest Rival: Luton Town

Elton John with Watford FC players during a press photoshoot in 1974. credit: Watford FC.

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