This interview was originally posted on the brilliant French website Footballski.fr that specialize in anything related to East European football. They were kind enough to help us translate it into English and allow us to post it here on RussianFootballNews.
First, can you tell us how you ended up in Samara?
They contacted me at the beginning of the transfer window and they were very clear that I would be very important part of the squad, and that they wanted to build something around me this season.
Did the coach, Frank Vercauteren, get in touch with you directly?
Through the staff, absolutely, as everybody within the club approved my signing. Everybody’s word was accounted for.
Did the city Samara or the club Krylya Sovetov ring any bells before you arrived?
No. Not at all.
You have been there for two weeks now [Editor’s note: The interview was conducted on September 11]. What do you think about it now? What about your integration and the city?
To be honest, I came here to prove myself and play football. My teammates didn’t know me very well at first, but I got to know them gradually and I get along with everyone now. As for the city, I’m not really picky on this matter. Saint-Etienne wasn’t necessarily a fantastic city either. It is not something I look for really. I signed here to play football, but I have to admit that the city is quite welcoming and it fits me just fine.
Regarding the football, does it look like what you expected? What was your idea of the Russian Premier League before?
Frankly, I did not have a precise idea of it. I was looking for a new challenge and I did not really think of what could happen. I just wanted to be an integral part of a coherent sportive project. The coach clearly promised me that, and as I said before, I now play a big role in the club’s project. I didn’t really care what I would find here. I only knew that I would play football and that I would have a lot of fun.
You are only on loan in Samara, so do you already have a plan for the future? Although it may be a bit early to talk about it.
No, I don’t really have a plan. My only plan is to help my team be as close to the top as possible at the end of the season. I think that as a football player, planning too far into the future wouldn’t allow me to seize the day. Again, what I’m really looking for is to have fun day-in and day-out. Everybody always have ideas and plans of course, but there is no point talking about it because anything can happen tomorrow. I’d rather live my life. I’ve played a game recently and I won it [Editor’s note: An away win against Zenit]. Another one is to be played next Monday and that’s where I need to put my focus on.
You’re dealing a lot with the project and the importance of being a center piece of the coach’s plans. Does that mean that you didn’t have that feeling in Saint-Étienne?
It is not really the question, but when someone approach you to talk about a project and says that you’d be a cornerstone of it, it is slightly different. I did not necessarily feel like I was an important member of the squad there and that’s exactly why I chose the club that offered me the most playing time. Now I need to prove myself.
Are you going to learn Russian?
To be honest, I really want to be able to speak Russian, and that’s one of my goals this year. I just decided it so I think I’m going to start to take some courses very soon. I really want to include the language to my arsenal in order to use it on a daily basis because I think it is really important to talk the country’s language as it is a part of it’s culture.
About that, how does it work during the trainings? I went there this summer and the instructions are told in English with a few words in Russian. Do you speak French with Frank Vercauteren, who speaks it very well?
I try not asking for translations. I understand English and it works fine for me. I look at what is going on around me and I adapt. If I don’t understand something, there is always someone to help me out. I don’t have issues with languages. I don’t speak Spanish and English perfectly but I know how to make people understand me. Football is a universal language anyways!
Let’s talk about the preparation for the next game. Zenit is one thing, Mordovia a whole different nut to crack. You will be the favorites this time so there will be more pressure after last week’s achievement at the Petrovsky.
I don’t think it is going to be different because it is a close rival in the relegation battle. I actually think it may be more important. I came here for this type of pressure. I played in front of a crowd of 40.000 people every week with the pressure of getting a European spot in Saint-Étienne. Here the public knows about football and it demands beautiful football, and we need to give them that. Pressure is a part of my career, that’s not a big deal. I’m not someone who is going to collapse in these types of moment. It’s actually a motivation.
You’ve only been in Russia for a short period of time, but perhaps you already have an opinion on the level of the Russian Premier League?
I’ve played against the best team in the country. Therefore, I can tell you that this is high-level football. I have not played against the other clubs, but I can still tell you that this is intensive and open football. That’s exciting. Teams don’t stay deep, they want to play beautiful football, create some opportunities and they shoot quite often as well.
Let’s wrap this up with a stereotypical question: aren’t you concerned about the upcoming winter?
Honestly, I’d rather play when it’s cold than when it’s hot. Furthermore, extreme temperatures will happen when we’ll be on holidays. I played in the snow in Saint-Étienne and Nancy as well. I also played in Caen and these are not cities where it’s burning hot. This really isn’t a factor that bother me.
Follow Adrien on Twitter: @AdriLT