We were all a bit dumbfounded when it was announced. A loan signing from AS Monaco?! How on earth did we manage that?
And yet, there Terrence Kongolo stood in a Town shirt with the swagger and charisma that you’d expect a player from the former Ligue 1 Champions.
Tall, athletic, pacy, strong and with an eye for a pass, at 24 years old, there had to be a reason why Monaco decided to loan him out to little old Huddersfield Town. Naturally, there was.
Having been bought from Dutch Eredivisie side Feyenoord in 2017 for a reported £11.4m, Kongolo failed to break into Leonardo Jardim’s side with Brazilian full-back Jorge establishing himself ahead of the Dutchman.
Regular first-team football was imperative to Kongolo and at 24, this is the prime age for players development and for achieving long-term career goals as well.
David Wagner was quick to pitch Huddersfield Town as the ideal place where Kongolo would play regular first-team football.
With Chris Lowe injured at the time and Scott Malone’s inconsistent form, Wagner knew that with Kongolo in the team, he could more easily adapt his 4-2-3-1 into a fluid 3-5-2 or 5-2-2-1 if we are being more precise. Kongolo would slot in as the left-sided centre-back or as a wing-back, if or when he decided to play Malone or a fit-again Chris Lowe.
Needless to say, Kongolo’s performances were impressive from the start. The accuracy of his passing from deep immediately caught the eye with rarely a pass going astray from the target he intended for it to go. His physicality was also something to behold.
Despite looking perhaps more lanky than muscular at first glance, he regularly tussled with established Premier League strikers and more often than not, got the better of them.
Standing at 6ft 2, Kongolo exploited his height advantage often and accurately in his aerial duels and demonstrated straight away he was not someone who would be muscled off the ball very easily.
However, first and foremost, Kongolo was brought in to defend and boy can he defend.
Countless times throughout the season, he put his body in harm’s way to defend his goal and protect his team-mates. One such example being away to West Brom.
In a game that most Town fans described as ‘must win’ – at 2-1 up, Pardew had brought on winger Oli Burke to try and change the tide of the game and salvage a point after, what must be said, a dreadful performance from his men.
Indeed, the move almost paid off.
With just under ten minutes to go, Burke was played through on the right-hand side. He looked to be clean through on goal with a clear sight of Lossl’s near-post or at the very least, be able to provide a cut-back for an onrushing colleague in support. Not to be.
At the last minute, Kongolo tracked back, positioned his body between Burke and Lossl’s right-hand post and blocked the shot, to rapturous applause from the Town faithful.
Moments like this win you Premier League football matches and one might argue, keep you in the division.
It was then I knew just how special a player Kongolo was and the crowd belted out “HES MAGIC YOU KNOWWWW, NEVER GET PAST KONGOLO” the loudest I have ever heard them.
After the most important signing of the season was made in the form of Wagner and his coaching team signing new contracts, it is my belief that signing Kongolo permanently will be our most important player signing of the season.
If we are to believe reports of a fee of around the €20m mark, it could well prove to be one of the bargains of the season and one of the biggest in Town’s history, if we exclude a certain £1.8m we paid for Sir Christopher Schindler.
Even if we keep Kongolo for one or two more seasons and then eventually sell him to a top 6 club, the fee we will receive for him will be significantly larger than the one we paid for him and we will have given him a platform to prove himself and thrive on one of the biggest stages in world football.
Many Town fans longer in the tooth than I used to state quite rightly that Trevor Cherry was Town’s greatest ever centre-back.
Whether Schindler has already taken that title with his performances and his indispensable value to the club is a debate for another time.
However, if Terrence Kongolo unlocks his boundless potential at Town, he could eclipse both Schindler and Cherry as Town’s greatest ever centre-back.
In a pre-match press conference last season, Kongolo stated “I will be one of the biggest defenders in the world” – in size and fame, he could well be proven right and Huddersfield Town will be the place he starts that journey off.