Football. Valentin Henry: “At Sochaux I took a new step in my career”

Sochaux finished 5th in Ligue 2 and progressed through the play-offs before losing to Auxerre on penalties… Has it been a successful season?

We are very happy, because the team was completely renewed and we didn’t really know what to expect. I myself arrived this summer and there were quite a few gray areas. So there is satisfaction in finishing fifth, even if there is also frustration in stopping in the playoff.

Especially on penalties…

We had done a lot of work by eliminating Paris FC, against Auxerre we managed to take penalties despite the fatigue… The holidays come at the right time to deal with this defeat. Now we keep a good structure for next year so that the team will be competitive from the start. With a few reinforcements we will have a workforce to be in the top five, or even higher, even if we know that Ligue 2 is a very competitive championship.

You also brought the Sochaliens back to the stadium…

It is really a satisfaction to have 20.000 people in Bonal again with an indescribable atmosphere. When the stadium is full, the popular grandstand sings the entire match, there is a lot of enthusiasm! We created emotions so that people would come back to the stadium.

You have indeed won many matches in the money time… How to explain it?

It was kind of our trademark! We had a sideline that allowed us to do it. We are a team that never gives up, that pursues itself. This is not the result of chance, it is the fact of hard work and perseverance.

You started 37 times, for one goal and two assists… Are you personally satisfied with your season?

The coach (Omar Daf) is satisfied. He is my reference, so I can say that I had a good season. I hope the next one will be better, especially by being more statistically decisive. But as a defender you talk more about the collective level.

Don’t you regret signing for Sochaux?

It’s one of the best choices I’ve made in my career! When I left Brest it was for a family club, Rodez, which gave me experience. Sochaux came to get me, I had other requests, but I chose to turn to Sochaux. I ended up at a great club, with a great coach. And I became an executive in a team that plays at the top of the league table, so I took a new step in my career.

Can you describe Omar Daf’s “style”?

He’s a former right-back so he’s taught me a lot about my position and he’s made me progress. In the locker room he is a very calm, very calm, very serene person. Whatever the outcome or fact of the game, he tries to bring a positive solution. He is very well complemented by his assistants who are close to the players: with the coach we mainly talk about football, but the assistants are more about the human aspect, ask us how things are going at home, let us put things on the mental aspect or the technical aspect. I am convinced that it is a staff that will one day be in Ligue 1, for me it is of a very high level.

Sochaux had a very pleasant playing style this year, was it a will on his part?

With his staff, they have the ability to adapt. The year before, they played a more direct game. But this year Sochaux had ball players, so they came in that niche: a counterattack with our fast attackers but also possession. We had this double hat!

How do you see the rest of your career?

I have another contract for one year in Sochaux and one more if we manage to move up. I need confidence and people who really want me to be in a project where I can play. I know they are happy with my performance in Sochaux. So I would be very happy if the adventure continued. But it depends on the projects that may arise. In the end I hope we get closer to Brittany, but it all depends on the proposals I have!

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