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Jérémy Pied: "It was extraordinary..."

The witness

March 8, 2018

Jérémy Pied: "It was extraordinary..."

He is one of those people that never changes. Despite the years going by, the travels, and the distance. After coming through the ranks at Lyon, Jérémy Pied (29 years old) saw everything with Le Gym, the club he played for from 2012 until 2016 – an experience that was broken up by a season on loan at Guingamp (2014/2015). Leaving for Southampton after a sumptuous season in Nice, the winger didn't hesitate to pick up the phone to update us and to talk about the good old times. With the class of a gentleman and the warmth of a parent.  

Jérémy, first things first, tell us how you are doing.

Personally, I am doing very well. On a sporting level, when I left, I did my cruciate very shortly after. Here, they thought that I would be out for the season, but my challenge was to play in the season that I suffered the injury (2016/2017). I did it. Last summer we had a change of manager (Mauricio Pellegrino replaced Claude Puel, Editor's note) and I don't play much... I won't go into detail, I prefer to say nothing and to work. That's the game, I wanted to play abroad, with everything that goes with it, I don't regret it. Even though it is difficult because when you play, you are always looking for more. And if you are not disappointed when you don't play, you need to change jobs. I am waiting for my chance and I am working hard.

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How do you find English football?  

In all leagues, 3 or 4 teams run away with it. Here, there are 7 or 8 huge sides, but it's not at all rare to see a smaller team get results. It's a lot more physical. What you can see on TV, can be felt on the pitch. The length of training doesn't change, but the intensity is multiplied by 2, 3, 4 … The grounds are 95% full and even in a bad situation like ours (Southampton are 17th after 29 games), they sing, they follow us, they give 100 % to try to help us.

Do you still watch L1?

Of course! I follow everybody.  

A Guingamp – Nice match is around the corner (kick-off on Sunday at 3pm). A match between your last two clubs "back at home"...

I saw that. After all of my injuries in Nice, I needed a turning point. I needed the loan to Guingamp. To go there, in extraordinary conditions, playing in Europe and the league, that was really good for me. I got myself going again in the right way. We got to the semi-finals of the Coupe de France (lost 0-1 against Auxerre), a Round of 32 of the Europa League (2-1; 1-3 against Dynamo Kiev), we finished 10th in L1. It was mutually beneficial: for the club and for me. I wouldn’t have had the great season for Nice afterwards, if it wasn’t for the time I spent at EAG…

“These moments will live with me forever”

Exactly, at the end of that great season, you returned to Nice in the summer of 2015. 

When I came back, it wasn’t easy, but I knuckled down. And then in the end, with the eventualities of the season, coach Puel pushed me further back and then, everything got going. I discovered a new position, that changed everything. I was used to playing higher up the pitch, on the right and on the left, I learned to play deeper but attacking nonetheless. This versatility still helps me, especially in England, where people love full-backs who bomb on… But to come back to that last season with Le Gym, it was quite simply magnificent. That determination that I had, that we all had, people saw that, people felt it. We weren’t perfect, but there were no liars, everyone knuckled down. That spoke to the Niçois... 

Do you still think about that season?

Of course! At times, I even watch back the images of the supporters and matches, it was extraordinary! Mika (Seri), Valère (Germain), Vincent (Koziello) and I still speak, it will remain with us. And if I had to speak about one match, it would be the one against Saint Etienne (2-0 victory on 7 May 2016)...

What a memory...

It’s tough to re-find those emotions. I think that it will always be so. There are people who will think about a World Cup final or a Euros, or Champions League final, but for us, at our level, it was crazy. The fans were on fire, were expecting it to happen. We knew that it was going to happen, but we didn’t know when. You could have added an extra half, we would still have continued to run, to push. And then, there was the brace from Valère and after that, the explosion. These moments will live with me forever. That created a very strong link, it will remain there for ever. For me, that was the real start to what is happening at the moment.

Why did you decide to leave at that time?

Because I wanted to discover playing abroad! When leaving Nice, certain French clubs offered me the same terms as in England: I didn’t follow them up. If I didn’t leave to play abroad, I would have stayed in Nice, except at that time in my career, I needed to try it. And then if you are going to leave, it’s better to do so during the good times. I was happy to leave the club like that. People didn’t criticise me and I think that they never will. Quite the opposite, when I come back to Nice, everybody is lovely…

“To play for the top 7 every year, that’s really impressive”

What do you think of En Avant?

Only good things… The club and the supporters create a liking, it’s part of the atmosphere. Everybody is very close, nobody feels above the others. When I see them play, I still feel that fervour, especially at home. They can take down big sides at home and are very dangerous. In more general terms, the situation at the club is healthy. They have recovered some money, invested in the pitch, changed the benches, the stands. When that is the case, you send a message. It proves that you want to go in the right direction. Like when you move to a new training ground or stadium.

Is there something that you didn’t say to the Nice fans before leaving?

I said everything to them and I say to them once again a very big thank you. I think a lot about them, even now. In Nice, I lived through every situation: I played, I didn’t play; I saw a fight for survival, a fight for Europe. I remember the moment when we were 17th and we fell to 7 consecutive defeats (between 26 October and 14 December 2013). The supporters came to see us to tell us that they would never leave us, as long as we fight. I remember everything. And the fans that have seen everything, know that Le Gym is currently going through a good period.

What do you make of the current Aiglons?

There is continuity in their performances, it’s positive. When I see that they got knocked out of the Europa League in the Round of 32 and everybody was disappointed, it’s a good sign… It means that the project is a good one, that the ambitions are there. What they needed to avoid was that they couldn’t reproduce our error of the first 4th place (2012/2013), where we had a great season, we were knocked out by Limassol in the qualifying rounds, and then after that, it became complicated again. This time, after our 4th place, the club backed it up. Even if the start of this season was difficult, they bounced back well. It’s really impressive that they are setting themselves up in the top 7 of L1 and to try to play in Europe every year. Incredibly impressive. It’s a huge pleasure to follow that…