Biography and family
Depay was born in 1994 to a Ghanaian father, Dennis Depay, and a Dutch mother, Cora Schensema, in the small South Holland village of Moordrecht.
It was not long, however, before the relationship between the two parents began to fall apart and when Depay was four, his father walked out on the family. Depay has numerous tattoos, including one on his left arm that is a tribute to his grandfather, who died on the day before he turned 15. When he scored against Australia in the 2014 World Cup, he kissed this tattoo and pointed to the sky, dedicating his goal to his late grandfather a moment which he then in 2016 commemorated with a tattoo on his left torso depicting Christ the Redeemer and the date 18.06.14, referring to his first international goal for the Netherlands. He also has a tattoo on the inside of his lip stating succesvol which is Dutch for ‘successful’ and also has the words ‘dream chaser’ emblazoned on his upper torso.
In June 2017, it was announced on social media that Depay was engaged to Lori Harvey, the youngest stepdaughter of American television personality Steve Harvey. Since then, they have ended their engagement and relationship.
Memphis has also pursued a hip-hop career in 2017, releasing a freestyle track LA Vibes with a video on his official YouTube channel featuring his Netherlands national team mate Quincy Promes.
He later went on to release another freestyle Kings & Queens (2017), 5 Milli (2018) and the tracks AKWAABA, No Love in 2018 and Fall Back in 2019.
Born in Moordrecht, Depay impressed football scouts from Sparta Rotterdam at the age of eight where he dazzled on the fields of his boyhood club vv Moordrecht showing his football skills. It took only three seasons before scouts from Sparta snatched Depay from his local club. Club chairman Ton Redegeld said, “Memphis was as a young player already complete. He was two-footed and strong. If we won 7–0, he scored five times and would assist two times”. When he turned 12, Depay caught the eye of clubs such as Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord. His grandfather, despite being an Ajax fan himself, advised Depay to move to PSV.
In 2011, Depay was on trial for PSV’s first team while playing for Jong PSV, the club’s reserve team. He made his official debut on 21 September 2011 in a KNVB Cup second round match against amateur side VVSB, opening an 8–0 away win. His first Eredivisie match was 26 February 2012, when PSV beat rivals Feyenoord 3–2 at the Philips Stadion, coming on in added time for Zakaria Labyad. On 18 March, six minutes after replacing Dries Mertens, he scored his first league goal to confirm a 5–1 win over Heerenveen. He made a total of eight league appearances in his first season, all as a substitute, scoring three goals.
Depay featured in the 2012 KNVB Cup Final on 8 April, playing the final four minutes of the 3–0 win over Heracles in place of Mertens at De Kuip in Rotterdam under interim coach Phillip Cocu, and was officially deployed in the first team the following day. On 29 June 2012, Depay signed his first professional contract with PSV, tying himself to the Boeren until 2017.
On 5 August, Depay featured in the 2012 Johan Cruyff Shield at the Amsterdam Arena, replacing Luciano Narsingh for the final six minutes as PSV defeated league champions Ajax 4–2. He made 20 Eredivisie appearances in his second season, scoring twice, including two starts. The first of these was on 2 March 2013 in a 2–0 home win over VVV-Venlo, scoring after three minutes after being set up by fellow teenager Jürgen Locadia. PSV again reached the cup final, losing 1–2 to AZ on 9 May, with Depay playing five minutes in place of Mertens.
2013–14: Breakthrough season
Depay scored his first goal in European football on 30 July 2013, when he drifted in from the left and then smashed the ball into the top corner past goalkeeper Sammy Bossut as PSV defeated Zulte Waregem 2–0 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie. PSV failed to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League, but in its second group stage match in the Europa League, Depay scored again, this time curling the ball into the net from outside the area, as the Dutch side defeated Chornomorets Odesa 2–0 on 3 October.
Depay provided the assist for Tim Matavž’s goal against Roda JC on 27 October 2013, but picked up two second-half yellow cards and was sent off for the first time in his professional career as PSV slumped to a 2–1 defeat. On 15 December, Depay helped PSV to just their second win in 13 matches, scoring twice in a 5–1 win over Utrecht. Depay helped PSV rack up their eighth win a row on 23 March 2014, a 3–1 win over Roda JC, having a hand in Bryan Ruiz’s game-winning goal despite wearing a protective mask to cover a bruised eye socket suffered in a challenge with Renato Ibarra of Vitesse on 15 March.
Depay helped PSV secure a place in European competition for the 41st consecutive year, edging the ball past goalkeeper Jelle ten Rouwelaar to score their first in a 2–0 win against NAC Breda; the final day win ensured that the club would finish fourth in the Eredivisie table.
2014–15: Top scorer and league title
After a successful showing at the 2014 World Cup, Depay was linked to a number of clubs, including Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Amid the speculation surrounding his future, he started the season for PSV in impressive fashion. Depay came off the bench to score one goal and deliver one assist in the return game of the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round tie between PSV and SKN St. Pölten on 7 August, as his team progressed to the play-off round after a 3–2 away win, giving them a 4–2 aggregate win over the Austrians. In the opening game of the Eredivisie season three days later, Depay played a major part in PSV’s 3–1 away win against promoted side Willem II by scoring two goals. He improved on this performance in the following game, scoring two free-kicks and delivering the assist for Georginio Wijnaldum’s goal in a convincing 6–1 home win against NAC Breda. On 28 August, in the Europa League play-off second leg away in Belarus, he scored two late goals against Shakhtyor Soligorsk as PSV won 3–0 on aggregate to reach the group stage. Depay then suffered a groin injury during PSV’s 3–1 defeat at PEC Zwolle on 13 September and he was substituted in the 18th minute.
On 18 April 2015, Depay scored PSV’s second goal with a free-kick from 35 yards out in a 4–1 home win over Heerenveen to give PSV its 22nd Eredivisie title, its first since 2008. Later that month, the club confirmed that they had received interest from others wishing to sign him, including Manchester United. He scored his last home goal for PSV in a 2–0 win against Heracles on 10 May. As he was substituted off, the stadium was filled with a deafening cheer from the crowd around him and he was met with numerous congratulations from his teammates. He finished the season as the league’s top scorer with 22 goals, two ahead of runner-up and teammate Luuk de Jong.
Depay had originally been the subject of several bids by English side Arsenal with club manager Arsene Wenger eventually going on to turn down a move for him altogether. On 7 May 2015, PSV confirmed that they had agreed a deal with Manchester United over Depay’s transfer, subject to a medical.
United manager Louis van Gaal said that he was “forced” into signing him early, due to interest from Paris Saint-Germain. Despite insistence from Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers that he had never been after Depay, PSV director Marcel Brands had stated that he had conversations with Liverpool over a possible signing. On 12 June 2015, United confirmed the signing of Depay, for a reported fee of £25 million on a four-year contract with the option to extend for a further year. He was unveiled as a Manchester United player at a press conference on 10 July 2015. This made him the fourth player to join United from PSV after Jaap Stam, Park Ji-sung and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Depay made his United debut in a pre-season friendly against Club América in Seattle on 17 July, contesting the first half as United fielded a different 11 players for each 45 minutes. He scored his first goal for the club four days later during a 3–1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes. At his own request, Depay was given the iconic number 7 shirt, previously worn by club legends such as George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo after the departure of Ángel Di María.
Depay made his Premier League debut on 8 August as the season opened with a 1–0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. He was substituted after 68 minutes for Ander Herrera, and Van Gaal said after the match that Depay was playing in too eager a manner. On 18 August, Depay scored his first two goals for Manchester United, and assisted Maroune Fellaini’s final goal, in a 3–1 home victory over Club Brugge in the first leg of the Champions League play-offs. Depay provided the assist for Wayne Rooney’s first of his three goals, in the second leg. He scored again on 15 September in the first game of the competition’s group stage, in an eventual 2–1 loss at his former team PSV. Depay was labelled as United’s “European Danger Man” following his early success in the Champions League. Depay scored his first Premier League goal on 26 September, opening a 3–0 home win over Sunderland, a victory that put United on top of the league for the first time in 110 weeks.
Following his early struggles in the Premier League, Depay told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, “There are a lot of games in Manchester. There are very few rest days and on training days you are mainly concerned with recovering. It’s heavy, two games a week, always at a high level, and my body has to get used to that.” These confessions were rubbed off by assistant manager and former United player and legend Ryan Giggs, who blamed Depay’s flashy lifestyle as the cause to his poor form. Regarding his form, Van Gaal warned Depay of not emulating Ángel Di María, who suffered a similar setback after joining United, and left prior to Depay’s arrival. Depay was later dropped to the bench, along with club and national teammate Daley Blind, during United’s 3–0 win over Everton on 17 October 2015, following the Netherlands’ failure to qualify for UEFA Euro 2016. Despite this, Depay was named in the 59-man longlist for the FIFA Ballon d’Or, but did not make the shortlist.
After being dropped in four consecutive matches, Depay got his first start as a second striker due to Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney’s unavailability, and seized the opportunity with his second league goal in a 2–1 away win over Watford at Vicarage Road. He scored an 11th-minute opener when he volleyed in Ander Herrera’s cross with his left foot. His performance earnt praise from his manager Van Gaal, as well as his first Premier League Man of the Match honour. In a January 2016 match against Chelsea, three minutes after coming on as a late substitute, Depay gave away the ball with a misplaced pass and failed to track back properly as Chelsea scored from the counterattack in stoppage time to draw the game.
Depay followed this with a goal each in United’s two Europa League matches against Midtjylland in February. He scored United’s solitary goal in 1–2 loss in the away leg then scored the final goal in a 5–1 win at home, allowing United to win 6–3 on aggregate. He also nutmegged Midtjylland defender André Rømer in the home leg by using a rabona. Depay was lauded for his performance in the home leg, where he not only scored but also set up the first goal, earned his side two penalties and his cross led to an own goal. His fans praised his performance as being “on fire”. Rømer later said, “I’ve never been so close to crying after a match as I was today. Memphis is the best player I have ever faced. He is the best. He can do anything.” Manager Louis van Gaal hailed the match as a “turning point” for Depay.
Depay made only four appearances (all of them as a substitute) and had a total playing time of just 20 minutes in the Premier League during the 2016–17 season. He only started one match in the 2016–17 season – the EFL Cup third round 3–1 away win over League One club Northampton Town on 21 September 2016 – and was substituted after playing 55 minutes of that match. After that match against Northampton Town, he only had 46 minutes of total playing time in competitive matches for Manchester United during the remainder of the 2016–17 season. Depay’s last competitive match for Manchester United was on 24 November 2016 when he played the final eight minutes of the 4–0 Europa League home victory against Feyenoord.
On 20 January 2017, Depay signed a four-and-a-half year deal with French club Olympique Lyonnais which would tie him to the French club until the summer of 2021.
The initial transfer fee was estimated to be £16–17 million, potentially rising to £22 million with the add-ons including Lyon qualifying for the UEFA Champions League and Depay earning a new contract. The terms of the deal also included buy-back and sell-on clauses for Manchester United.
On 22 January 2017, Depay made his competitive debut for Lyon by coming on as substitute for Mathieu Valbuena in the 79th minute in a home Ligue 1 match against Olympique de Marseille, which Lyon won 3–1. 6 days later, he made his first competitive start for Lyon in a home Ligue 1 match against Lille OSC, almost scored when he smashed a shot just over the bar in the 9th minute and was substituted in the 68th minute by Maxwel Cornet; Lyon lost the match 2–1.
On 12 March 2017 in a game against Toulouse, Depay scored a goal from nearly the halfway line (46 meters) out. Depay later said that “It was the goal of my life” although he also distanced himself from comparisons to Beckham.
On the final day of the 2017-18 season, Depay scored a hat-trick against Nice as Lyon won 3-2 and qualified for the next season’s UEFA Champions League.
Depay was a member of the Netherlands under-17 team which won the 2011 European Championship in Serbia. In the final against Germany in Novi Sad, he scored the goal which put the Netherlands ahead as they came from behind to defeat their rivals 5–2. Later that year, he participated in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup held in Mexico.
Depay made his international debut on 15 October 2013, coming on for Jeremain Lens in the last minute of a 2–0 away win against Turkey at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in World Cup qualification.
Depay was selected by Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal in the final 23-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He came on as a substitute before the half-time whistle in the second group match against Australia to replace defender Bruno Martins Indi, who had sustained a head injury, and in the 68th minute he scored the winning goal, a swerving effort from outside the box. He also set up Robin van Persie’s equaliser. He became the youngest Dutchman to score a goal at the World Cup, at the age of 20 years and four months. He came on as a substitute again in the final group match against Chile on 23 June in São Paulo and scored the second goal for the Dutch, tapping in an Arjen Robben cross, as they clinched first place with a 2–0 victory.
On 11 July, Depay was named on the three-man shortlist for the tournament’s Best Young Player award, together with Frenchmen Paul Pogba and Raphaël Varane, but lost out to Pogba.
Depay’s first goal since the World Cup came in a friendly at the Amsterdam Arena on 5 June 2015, deflecting Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s shot to put the Netherlands 3–1 up against the United States, although the team eventually lost 4–3. In October of that year, he was involved in a fight with teammate Robin van Persie at an international training camp; manager Danny Blind stated to the media, “There are sometimes situations in training where players think different. Then you talk about it. That’s what happened and then it’s over.” The following month, both Depay and Van Persie were dropped from the Dutch squad for friendlies against Wales and Germany, with Blind stating of Depay, “In football you must function in a team. He doesn’t always do that. That’s something he has to learn.”