Football: “From the first days I felt at home”, the first words of Benoît Poulain after his return to Nîmes Olympique

Free central defender Benoît Poulain signed a one-year contract (plus an extra season with conditions) with Nîmes Olympique this week. A homecoming for the thirties who entrusted a press conference on Friday 15 July.

He received a “big blow” to his left calf in training next Friday, July 15, and it is therefore not certain whether he will play the third preparatory game against Bastia (Ligue 2) on Saturday in Mallemort (Bouches-du-Rhone). Already very close to a return in 2019 – “It didn’t happen in the end, it wasn’t my first wish or the right time,” he says – Benoît Poulain signed a one-year contract this week (with option for an extra season) of Olympic Nmeswhose colors he already wore from 2006 to 2014.

Eight years later you are back in Nîmes Olympique. What feeling drives you?

I thought there would be more nostalgia, more special emotion… But it’s not like I’ve never been to the city, like I’ve never been to the stadium since I left and that I was rediscovering everything. The places have not changed, from the first days I felt at home. Postponing the jersey in a friendly (against Annecy on July 9), that was stronger, I felt proud. Talking about it gives me chills.

Did this return to the Crocos come naturally or did you rather hesitate to put in the effort?

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. In Belgium, we ended the season quite early, on April 15, and I told myself that I would think about my future during the holidays. When they ended, I wasn’t much further (smile). I didn’t know what I wanted. There were three options: end my career, go abroad, specifically to Indonesia for a family project, or return to Nîmes. The opportunity to come and train with the croco group was a click. After two or three training sessions I knew I really wanted to play again. Last season I didn’t have a good season and I didn’t want to end there. In Nimes I also discovered a good staff and a good team of players. These three elements added together quickly convinced me to draw.

What do you plan to bring to the group?

I want to bring individual quality to the field, be involved in communication and organization and play many matches. They expect me, I know, to pass on my experience to a very young group. Thus, when I started, I learned, looking at Alicarte, Rouvière and Ecker, who had experience at the highest level. I will try to bring in my professionalism, to give some advice on and off the field.

The doubts are there. I could hide them, but they exist

You will turn 35 on July 24. Your age raises questions. Do you understand?

Physically I feel very good, so I have no special concerns. Another week or two and I’ll be on top. Everything is going smoothly so far, even if I got a blow to my calf. Then there are the doubts, they exist. I could hide them, but they exist. The only reason is that I’m coming from a relatively white season, I’ve been without competition for four or five months and I can’t know today what effects this will have on the machine restart and the order of matches.

Since your departure from Nîmes, and with the exception of a few months in Turkey, you have spent most of your career in Belgium, Kortrijk, Bruges and Eupen. How do you explain it?

When I was under contract in Nîmes, I almost went once to Bordeaux and once to Lens, but that didn’t happen. When I came to the end of the contract, I would have given priority to Ligue 1, but I would not have had an offer. The only club that bothered to hire me was Niort. But then I wanted to break the label I had, that of a Ligue 2 player, so I went abroad. I arrived in Kortrijk where I was lucky enough to be in a good team. I was very good and it gave a little boost to my career. Three and a half seasons behind in Bruges, with two league titles at stake (in 2016 and 2018) and two second places. Football wise it was unbelievable! I saw what a real European club was. Never evolved in Ligue 1, it’s not a flaw at all. I would rather play at the top in Belgium and give myself the chance to play in a European Cup (he played 13 games, 11 of which were in the Champions League, editors note) than stay in Ligue 1.

#football Omarsson, Eliasson and Doucouré are missing. pic.twitter.com/cxO54l8LR3

– Midi Libre Nmes (@MidiLibreNimes) July 15, 2022

Nîmes-Bastia, third preparatory match

to swear Touched in the left calf, in training next Friday, July 15, Poulain is uncertain for the third Crocos preparatory match, next Saturday at 5.30 pm in Mallemort (Bouches-du-Rhône) against Bastia (L2). Six players, scheduled to return to the group before the start of the week, are not available: Benezet (single), Burner (psoas), Omarsson and Eliasson (stomach problems), Doucouré (re-athletics) and Malafosse ( Covid). This morning it will be decided whether the Danish midfielder Thomasen will participate or not.

Choice “Playing times will be longer,” announced Nicolas Usaï, who will field “70 to 80%” of his standard team against Bastia. The croco coach hopes that his training will be able to bring “more intensity and rhythm” than during the first two preparatory matches against Toulouse and Annecy. “It’s not anecdotal not to have scored yet,” he also underlined, hoping “to unlock our counter as soon as possible.”

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