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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 this week (plus an additional conditioned season) with Nîmes Olympique. A homecoming for the thirties who confided in a press conference this Friday, July 15.

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

Eight years later, you are back at 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 back to the city, like I’ve never been back 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 match (against Annecy on July 9, editor’s note), 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 commit?

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 along (smile). I didn’t know what I wanted. There were three options: to end my career, to go abroad, to Indonesia in particular for a family project, or to return to Nîmes. The opportunity to come and train with the croco group was a click. After two or three training sessions, I knew that I really wanted to play again. I didn’t have a good last season and I didn’t want to end there. In Nîmes, I also discovered a good staff and a good team of players. These three elements added together quickly convinced me to sign.

What do you think you bring to the group?

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

The doubts do exist. I could hide them, but they exist

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

Physically, I feel really good, so I don’t have any special worries. Another week or two and I’ll be on top. Everything is going so far without a hitch, even if I took a blow to the calf. Afterwards, the doubts, they exist. I could hide them, but they exist. The only reason is that I am coming out of a relatively white season, I have been without competition for four or five months and I cannot know today what effects this will have on restarting the machine and the sequence of matches.

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

At the time, when I was under contract in Nîmes, I almost left once for Bordeaux and once for Lens but that didn’t happen. Arrived at the end of the contract, I had prioritized Ligue 1 but I had not had an offer. The only club that had made the effort to hire me was Niort. But then I wanted to break the label I had, that of a Ligue 2 player. That’s why I went abroad. I arrived in Kortrijk where I was lucky to find myself in a good team. I was very good and it gave a little boost to my career. There were three and a half seasons behind in Bruges, with two league titles at stake (in 2016 and 2018) and two second places. Footballistically speaking, it was incredible! I saw what a real European club was. Never having evolved in Ligue 1, it is not at all a lack. I preferred to play at the top of the table in Belgium and give myself the chance to play in a European Cup (he played 13 matches, including 11 in the Champions League, editor’s note) than staying in Ligue 1.

#soccer Omarsson, Eliasson and Doucouré are missing.

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

Nîmes-Bastia, third preparation match

sores Touched in the left calf, this Friday July 15 in training, Poulain is uncertain for the third Crocos preparation match, this Saturday at 5.30 p.m. in Mallemort (Bouches-du-Rhône) against Bastia (L2). Six players, whose return to the group is scheduled for the start of the week, are unavailable: Benezet (ankle), Burner (psoas), Omarsson and Eliasson (gastric problems), Doucouré (re-athletics) and Malafosse (Covid). A decision will be made this morning on whether or not Danish midfielder Thomasen will participate.

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


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