Frederic Reculeau. : “We didn’t discover anything at all. It was his agent Ismail Mouline who asked me with the president of Avranches. He absolutely wanted Azzedine to return to National after his two years with the Strasbourg reserve in N3″ Many professional clubs did . don’t believe him. I didn’t know the player, but his agent insisted a lot. He saw Avranches as a springboard for Azzedine, especially thanks to our style, based on the game on the ground, in the feet and on the move. style matched his profile.”
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Why did he fail to win in Strasbourg?
FR : “No idea. I don’t have to judge the choice of Strasbourg. During his season in Avranches, we were in contact with professional clubs, especially in Ligue 2, and many of them did not believe in him. Except Angers SCO.”
What did you learn from your first exchanges with Azzedine Ounahi when he arrived at Avranches?
FR : “The first exchanges were not easy. We had to get the words out of Azzedine’s mouth. He was moved by his failure in Strasbourg. He did not imagine playing in an amateur club when he arrived in France (note: in 2018 ). It was not easy for him. We had to make him understand that if he was in Avranches it was for his own good. We wanted to put him in the best conditions so that he could come back very quickly. But we had to earn his trust. Azzedine is reserved, introverted and even suspicious. He doesn’t give his trust like that. Things opened up from the moment we worked on the ground. There he surrendered. realizing that he would flourish through what was going to be offered to him.”
What memories do you have of his first training session and his first matches?
FR : “As much as I had a reserved Azzedine off the pitch, he was just as content on the green rectangle. We saw straight away that he was full of talent. That’s the kind of player profile we like to see on a football field. He gradually gained strength during the season in a national championship, which is not easy.”
With Azzedine, it goes in the ears and comes out through the feet
In what areas of the game has he progressed at Avranches?
FR : “When he arrived, he already had his technical qualities, acceleration and kicking. His volume of play was also there. He was one of the boys who ran the most at Avranches. With the Strasbourg reserve, I don’t know if he has developed a lot, I think it was too simple for him. In National it became more complicated on the athletic challenge and he had problems at the beginning. The idea was that he expanded his palette as a player: changing areas of play, avoiding certain duels, using others flats, improve information gathering, penultimate passing and finishing. Let him look for other things. I already thought he would be stronger in Ligue 1 or Ligue 2 because there are more places for this type of player to express himself. Since it is a hard worker, an intelligent person and who listened to what was asked of him in the field, it was a pleasure to work with him. With Azzedine, it goes in the ears and t comes out through the feet.”
Did he talk openly about his ambitions for the future?
FR : “At first I felt that he was sad to be at Avranches. We gave him a lot of kindness and love. From there he responded on the pitch and opened up more and more from his misfortune to come and play in the National, he did to a strength. Because he took refuge in work and had the will to get out of there. After his ambitions, it was deep in him. His will was to sign a professional contract. When he joined Angers, he was happy. Then he would be in the selection of Morocco or even more if he continued his ascent.”
Azzedine Ounahi, Moroccan unveiling of the 2022 World Cup, is followed by FC Barcelona.
Credit: Getty Images
Are you surprised by his WC?
FR : “No. Afterwards, I’m surprised that it’s going so fast for him. I saw every day in Avranches what I see on TV today. But as I say, he plays in a defensive team, so we can’t quite see the real Azzedine. He is even stronger in the upper part of the opponent. He proved it against Spain and that is what marked Luis Enrique. In the 110th minute he still had his power to accelerate, eliminate players and follow up with a pass to his striker. Whether it’s at the start or at the end of the match, he doesn’t lose his technical quality and that’s rare. We have the impression that he’s never tired. That’s why he’s a player at a very high level.”
You think we haven’t seen all of Azzedine Ounahi’s talent yet…
FR : “No. There he is in his camp, dribbling and pouncing. If you put him in the upper part to animate the play, he will not lose the ball and can trigger more decisive actions. After that, you will have to be talented. players around him, he’s not going to do everything on his own. As a number 8 or 10, it’s more his profile. After that, he’s a complete player, he’s able to be very good from when it’s in the animation of the game.”
FR : “For me it is the ideal club for him. His style is adapted to the Spanish league. Would he exist in other big leagues? Yes, but I would be more doubtful given the athletic challenge. I inevitably see him more in Barcelona than anywhere else. Afterwards, it will take time and he will swallow the matches at a very high level. The more he plays in a team with high potential, the more his talent will be brought forward.”
Are you still in touch with him?
FR : “Yes, we exchange. I send him little words to congratulate him on his performance in Angers. I call him after the World Cup. When he went to Angers, he came back to see us three or four times in Avranches. He was grateful to the club. This is the class worthy of great players.”
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