Georges Gope-Fenepej is one of the most successful Pacific Islanders in Oceania football history, just like Roy Krishna, his compatriot Jekob Jeno, Marama Vahirua and Brian Kaltak, he left the Pacific Islands to turn into professional football player. In Gope-Fenepej’s case he left for France after making history as he helped his New Caledonian national team to eliminate New Zealand for the first time in the 2012 OFC Nations Cup – ultimately losing the grand final to Tahiti by 1-0.
In France he already went to big stages: ESTAC Troyes was his first stop, being the first player to have worn the jersey of the New Caledonia national team to play in Ligue 1, the top-tier of French football. The striker kept himself in Troyes for two seasons and a half where in the period he was loaned to US Boulogne before moving to Amiens in 2015. At Amiens he achieved the incredible feat of climbing with the team from the National (third division) to Ligue 1, participating in the team’s entire journey. He then moved to Le Mans where he again achieved promotion from the National to Ligue 2.
Now at 34 years of age the New Caledonian legend has written another great chapter in his carreer by helping Concarneau win the Championnat National and getting then promoted to Ligue 2 for the first time in its history, after joining the club back in 2021.
In the current season Gope-Fenepej has played 18 of a possible 34 games contributing with one assist and starting 29% of the matches. He became the third player born in New Caledonia to win a title in France, after icons Christian Karembeu and Antoine Kombouaré who played for the French national team when there was no national team in the archipelago.
At 34 years of age it will take us a while to know what will be the fate of his career now, whether he will continue at Concarneau even though he lost a lot of space in the team at the end of the season, whether he will look for another club in the National or if even a return to his homeland in on the cards.
The Oceania Football Center congratulates Gope-Fenepej for his brilliant career and achievement, and may he inspire more players from New Caledonia and the Pacific Islands to pursue their goals in becoming professional football players.