“I’m really a collective player”

Randall Kolo Muani, What does March 14, 2021 mean to you?
I think it’s our victory with FC Nantes at the Parc des Princes against Paris Saint-Germain (FC Nantes win 2-1 with a goal and assist from Randle Kolo Muani, In my eyes, it wasn’t my best match, but I know it put me in the spotlight.

Can you tell us about your career before arriving at FC Nantes (2015-2022)?
I started playing football in the Paris region, more precisely in the club of my city, FC Villepinte. Then, I developed in the U11 to U13 categories at Tremblay before joining Torcy, where I spent four years until U17. It was there that FC Nantes spotted me at the age of 16 before recruiting me in November 2015.

What did you miss by joining any training center earlier?
Given the amount of talent in the Paris region, it is very difficult to get an opportunity to join a training center. It took me a long time to grow up and I was very weak when I started playing. My character, maturity was also lacking on the pitch. For example, in a match, you could see me for 10 or 20 minutes and then I would completely disappear. I was only present intermittently.

You were careless…
Yes… I was very careless too. It was a mistake of youth, a danger to life. I had to work on myself. I hope I didn’t realize this too late, but today I feel I am on the right track.

“I never thought that one day I would be professional”

But you finally managed to get out of the game…
Let’s say I got the chance to catch the attention of FC Nantes. I am very happy that I have been able to convince the club. Prior to this occasion, I had tested in Italy (in Cremonese and Vicenza) But my father preferred that I should remain in France. Without this interest from Nantes, I don’t know where I would be today.

Were you confident enough to succeed in becoming a professional athlete?
Not particularly. I was still working for it, I was trying to give myself the means and that was my goal, but I didn’t tell myself that one day I would become a professional. I didn’t want to dream, I didn’t want to fall from a height.

How was your adaptation to FC Nantes?
Initially I was a bit nervous, I think it took me a year to adjust to the pace of work and the intensity of the sessions. Luckily, I was able to count on Coach Charles DeVineau and my teammates to make me comfortable over time. After starting out in the U19s, I moved to the CFA with the reserve team, where I played for a long time before progressing between the latter and the professional group. At that time I wondered when I would get my chance to be in the first team.

Do you really consider the fact of not passing the training center to be a brake?
Rather I make it my strength. Given my background, I believe you don’t need to go through a training center to play at a high level. The example of N’Golo Kante proves it. He now plays in one of the best clubs in the world (he was at chelsea at the time) while he exploded of late with a unique outing.

“This loan to Boulogne was the best decision I made in my early career”

What were the differences between you and the players who came through the academy?
Technically, they are very, very thin. And tactically, they have better position and pay more attention to the little things. You have to adapt and learn quickly. I was doing extra sessions to try to catch up.

To gain playing time, he joined Boulogne on loan for the 2019/20 season. What did this path bring you?
Self-confidence. Even before I got the loan, I had decided that I wanted to develop in the first team, whether in Ligue 2 BKT or National, I wanted to fully discover daily life within a professional group. Slowly, not playing in the first team, I started to have doubts about progressing through the Pro Group and Reserves. I thought maybe I am doing something wrong. Time to play in a team above CFA level convinced me. I was able to discover a tough championship, with intensity and lots of duels.

However the adventure started badly with two red cards and an eight game suspension…
This was the trigger. I was at the bottom of the hole. I started asking myself a lot of questions and luckily my family was there to support me. I changed a lot in my way of thinking and working. I told myself that I was taking the wrong direction, that I had come here to get my career back on track, not to retreat and bury myself. I had to overcome all these trials. This loan is the best decision I have taken in my early career.

“I’ll think about the last pass first”

How did you feel going from loan at National to Ligue 1 keeper in just a few months?
Everything happened very fast. I chained the matchbox but was not aware that yes, I was the holder after all. My focus was on giving my best, helping the team, making good passes and scoring.

Do you have any model?
I have a lot (laughter, I am not talking about any particular player. For example, I really like Luis Suarez’s belligerence, Anthony Martial’s finesse, Raheem Sterling’s quickness and change of pace… Kylian MbappĂ©, even though we are the same age, I like the way he Excelles with his pace. I try to carry keys everywhere to motivate myself.

How would you describe your profile?
I’m really a collective player. I would think about my teammates, above all the last pass. I am not a goal-hungry striker but I am working on it. It’s my job, it’s up to me to be in the field and complete the action.

It must be said that you haven’t always been on the attack…
When I was in CFA, I played more as a winger than a center forward. Since I wasn’t really in front of goal, I liked to dribble to the side and cross behind or in front of goal. I love helping. Even in Boulogne, during my loan, I played in the side, that’s what the coach wanted.

Full Interview > Randall Kolo Muani: “I want to get this rage to score”

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