Four years after coming off injury in Olympique de Marseille’s 3-0 loss to Atlético in the 2018 UEFA Europa League final, Dimitri Payet and Umeå Feyenoord face off for a place in the first European Conference League final.
After scoring an anthology goal in the quarter-finals, he hopes to present a trophy to the boiling Olympic crowd.
UEFA.com: Feyenoord in the semi-finals, a big Dutch club, with an atmosphere that will be similar to a velodrome, is that perfect for you?
Dimitri Payet: Yes, I think we had a good training with this trip to Greece, with a very warm crowd. So obviously we’re expecting a very tough game, at home, that they’re going to want to win. It is up to us to take this match as we have taken the others, with the idea of putting our game in place and trying to put them as difficult as possible.
What did you expect on July 3, 2013 when you joined Olympique de Marseille?
Dimitri Payet: I was expecting to arrive at an important club, in the biggest French club, with all that there is, the expectations of the fans, this daily pressure and the fact of having to play with it, to have to win his place in a team that is already well built, so the questions are more than comfort.
Nine years later, I have the impression that this pressure is feeding you, this enthusiasm about OM …
Yeah because it’s a bit of my vision of football too. I played in Nantes, Saint-Etienne and Lille in the new stadium and here in Marseille. I also chose my clubs in relation to that, in relation to the stadium, in relation to the atmosphere there could be in those stadiums because I am not a player who would like to play in an empty stadium or in a low capacity stadium. I love the vibe, whether at home or outside for that matter, it’s what motivates. But it’s true that I’m here, I live near the stadium, I’m in the city, and the fans keep reminding me of the game, the action, the end of the season, and a lot of things. There is always something to be said for OM, so surely by living in Marseille you can’t escape this excitement.
Dimitri Payet in numbers
Date and place of increasing : March 29, 1987, Saint-Pierre, Reunion
Cuts : 1.75 m
Matches / goals in the UEFA club competition: 62/14
National matches/goals: 38/8
As captain, you have to deal in the locker room with some guys who are teasing you, how are you as captain?
As I have already said many times, I do not have a leader’s soul. Time and experience gave me a badge today with Steve (Mandanda). But I am more of a technical leader in the field, more of someone who will lead his team, but without having to give a speech. I have but it’s rare, when I really feel like it helps. But I have a bigger role for the older brother in counseling young people. We have very good guys, and we have to guide them so they can take us away as well because it’s our future.
I was lucky to be on the field when I scored against PAOK, how many times have I tried without breaking the net?
Honestly, in this position at that distance, not so much. It’s more of a hemisphere movement to try in training or on the finish line, but I think that night I was in the right place at the right time and took it just as he needed it. Then there is success also because I think I can try it again a few times and it will never be good so I enjoy it because it is a goal that will stay and a goal that will count above all else.
Three goals and three assists in the conference league this season, I imagine the European matches bypass you…
Yes, it is completely different. Without disrespecting our championship, as soon as we hear the European Cup, it’s even more special at this club. Because we lived through the saga in the 2017/18 season, it feels different and we felt it there in the quarter-finals. We felt it on the way. We have our half coming back home, it will start to tickle the world, make noise, talk, which is exceptional to live a European saga in this club.
In 2018, you cut yourself right before the final, is that revenge of fate for you and the team too?
On the other hand, I don’t know, that’s how injuries happen in football. You might get hurt at the beginning of the season where you might get hurt, unfortunately, before the European Cup final, it’s sad but you have to live with it. Today, if we are lucky enough to afford the European Cup final, we will do whatever it takes. The goal is to have two games to go and take that final. We have to run the tournament, we have to make the effort to be good in the two tournaments we have left, but we feel like the stadium will be full until the end of the season because the fans are there. They expect a positive end to the season.
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