Football. Gerzino Nyamsi: “I had to emancipate myself”

Ligue 1. RC Strasbourg – AS Monaco, this Saturday (5pm)

How did you experience the first full season of your career at Strasbourg?

Very good ! I had a sense of accomplishment. Before, I hadn’t had the chance to tie the matches together and to be able to perform. It was my personal goal for the start of the season and I achieved it. I was happy, but it makes you want to keep going. That’s what we play for: knowing the wins and the defeats and being an integral part of the adventure. If you play very little, even if you know you’re part of the group, you feel like you’re not really contributing your brick to the building.

Did you think a year ago that you could impose so much on yourself?

My mentality, long before that, when I was 21 or 22, was to tell myself I had to play. At one point I was very frustrated. So when I got here I didn’t want to let go of a minute, I had this goal to play everything. I had spoken to the coach, but he made no promises. You had to prove your worth during training.

How do you explain the mayonnaise gobbled up so quickly, when you had just gained weight?

Exactly, it plays! If you’re taken from another club, it makes sense that you become important. Me, I had done everything in Rennes, I’ve been with the club since I was six, so it’s different, it could have a link. I may not have seen it then, but maybe I wasn’t mature enough, seasoned enough. There were also the choices of coaches, who preferred someone else to me. I’ve always respected those choices, but I wanted to leave, look elsewhere.

Did you have to get out of your comfort zone to hurt yourself?

No, that’s not how it went. To be honest, I’ve wanted to leave Rennes for a long time. It’s not that I don’t like this club, on the contrary, it’s my favorite club. But I told myself that for my career, if I didn’t have playing time, I should look elsewhere. The workforce meant I had to stay, to be in the rotation. I was happy to play there. But I had to emancipate myself.

What do you notice that is different at RC Strasbourg?

I’m from Rennes, I spent 24 years there, 18 of which were in Stade Rennais. I only knew that. There, it’s a different environment, the city is different… I was ready for that, so I took it in the best possible way. I arrived at a family club, with a good atmosphere in the dressing room, the players welcomed me very well. And inevitably I found ways of working, a coach and a staff I knew. I was very quickly absorbed in the decor and adapted. And the first games I played here really got me in the mood. The atmosphere was “pfft”, we were winning, I had played well.

The man flourishes as well as the player, in this new city?

Yes, it is a beautiful city! It reminds me a bit of Rennes, only bigger. I like the architecture, there are really nice little places. There is attractiveness, coupled with the fact that it is a border town: there are Germans, Belgians… The people are quite simple, so I feel good.

I have a good relationship with him. He tells me things when the need arises, whether they are good or not so good. And for my part, I think I can afford to tell him what I felt sometimes, while I stayed in my place. Because we have known each other for a long time and I had him in U17 and U19, there is a real trusting relationship.

Do you measure the contribution of playing with experienced defenders like Djiku or Le Marchand?

Of course it brings. You have to constantly analyze and learn from others. So obviously playing with Ligue 1 regulars has helped me. But since I had just arrived, I had to prove my worth. And since I get along well with them, these are elements that come up, so it’s beneficial.

Become the “rock” of a top L1 table team, did you know you were capable of that?

I am an ambitious person. I don’t talk much, I don’t always reveal my ambitions, but I’ve always thought about it. When we played the Champions League in Rennes, I told myself I would love to play it elsewhere. I also wanted to make my career, that’s it! Playing at the head of the table in Strasbourg, even though we didn’t expect it at the start of the season, didn’t necessarily surprise me. And that was a goal.

This Saturday the season starts for you, against Monaco (5 p.m.). What goals do you set?

I stayed in the dynamics of last season: that the collective and I make good matches. We have to perform. But personally, I would add scoring goals in addition to the other daily goals, even if it’s not what I’m asked first. I’m big, there’s a way to score a few goals.

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