Exclusive / Interview – Nicolas Nkoulou “OM, a new beginning”
Nicolas, why did you choose Marseilles?
Because Olympique de Marseille is a great club. I had a lot of discussions with the coach (Didier Deschamps) and he convinced me. From our conversation, I understood that I was going to make good progress there. But it wasn’t easy to make up my mind. It took me a long time to decide.
You were one of the priorities of Didier Deschamps …
I am very proud, especially as the coach of OM is after all Didier Deschamps. Knowing that he called a kid like me can only do me good!
How was last Wednesday? (The one during which you signed your contract)
It went on well. I arrived in Marseilles at about 11 AM, I was immediately presented to the technical staff and to the administration. Then, I had physical examination and all went well. Then in the process, I went to see the President to sign my contract and I introduce myself to the press. I did not have the opportunity to see the other players because the resumption was earlier in the morning, around 10am.
You’ll meet again Stephane Mbia, your teammate in the selection …
Yes, it’s good to meet again a brother, because it is not always easy to meet each other out of our roots.
Didier Deschamps would like to put in place the highly effective defensive pair of Senegal-Cameroon, Mbia-Nkoulou …
Maybe, but I have no idea, no certification and the coach is the one making his choices.
At what position do you wish to play?
My favourite position is central defender, after I signed in Marseilles and I remain at the service of the team.
There will be plenty of competition in central defense …
With the job that we do, every day we have to compete. If I don’t say I am competing, I will be lying to myself. Saying I am confident, will be equally a lie, but I know, now the most difficult task is ahead of me. The season will start soon and I have to quickly get acquainted.
How did you feel after the words of Laurent Banide to the press about you? "Player of international level" to the team and "He has the costume of a very high level player, it has all the assets and the courage to become a great OM player " at La Provence.
What he could say about me really encourages me. I tell myself that all my efforts have not gone unnoticed, it triggers me and helps me to work.
Are you sad to leave Monaco?
Yes, it saddens me greatly. Monaco is a family, for me it’s like leaving your mother to start life, just like going to boarding school. It pains my heart. Monaco is a great club and I had a great time there.
You had resumed training with AS Monaco at the beginning of last week, what message did you give to your teammates and Benjamin Moukandjo, your colleague in the selection?
I simply told them, "things have changed for me, it will have to go fight. Now we keep in touch, we remain friends. We do not forget the good times spent together "I did not tell them goodbye because Marseille is not far from Monaco and we will meet again. To Benjamin, I told him that a new page was to be turned, that is we will no longer play together and he has to fight. I wish him the best.
Do you think OM is a springboard for your career?
I sincerely hope, I hope for me because when you’re there, you have to be ambitious and aspire to play a little higher.
Are you proud to wear the jersey of OM?
Of course! OM is a great club, it’s the elite.
In OM, there is much pressure, do you feel ready?
It does not scare me, I’m ready to know what OM is!
Physically, how do you feel after a month of vacation?
I feel good, I am eager to start training and to meet the others again.
When will you begin training with OM?
I start Monday (Today). At the moment I train alone. I make jogging, in particular, to keep the rhythm and form.
In the National Team, after the draw in Senegal, the qualification for the Orange 2012 African Cup of Nations is more than compromised now …
Yes it’s true that it is not clear right now, it is certain but I’m a player, I’m Cameroonian and I hope we will qualify!
What do you need to qualify now?
We need to score goals, to win and hope that others fail. It is the mind that will play, we are in a tied corner and we have to quickly get back on track to win the next two games and then cross fingers.
Is it a season to forget for you? With Monaco and Cameroon?
Not to forget because I think it helps me to grow, I learnt a lot of lessons last season but I hope it is for me a fresh start. The season gave me a lot, I think I have grown and that’s good, it gave me something more. However it is not an individual sport, it is true the individual counts, but it must work collectively.
You’ve been captain many times with Monaco and you’re vice-captain of Cameroon, it forges…
Yes, that’s a plus for me, I do not ask for it, I do not force myself to it but they gave it to me. It is good to receive well what is given to us. Now it’s a new direction, a new challenge to take.
What did you do during the holidays?
I had been six months without seeing my family which was not easy. I had to return home and I spend time with my family. In fact, I spent all my holidays in Cameroon. The season has not been easy for me, thus it allowed me to recharge my batteries. I am ready to start once more on a good foundation and achieve great things with OM if they call me. I want to grow and write a beautiful story with my new club.