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Boudebouz: Secrets of a dribbler

Ligue 1 Conforama > Interviews

In two seasons at Montpellier, Ryad Boudebouz has become a firm fans favourite. Scintillating on the pitch, the midfielder is also loving life off it in the southern city. Interview…

"Since the start of my career, this is the city where I've felt the most at home," the attacking midfielder told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS. "If a player tells you that he doesn't feel good in this town, they're lying. You can do everything here, you can go the beach with your family or friends. Those that like going out in the evening, they can. It's a city where you can really do it all and you have to love it. The foreign players that come to Montpellier settle really quickly and enjoy the lifestyle. For a footballer, it's really magnificent."

This year, the Algeria international has taken another step up in class with 11 goals and eight assists and is enjoying his best ever season.

"It's a pretty good season if we look at the statistics, but I know I could have done even better. I could have scored more goals and provided more assists. I always try and give my best, be the best I can be, but I also want to really continue progressing, I'm very demanding of myself already, but I really want more."

He set the tone on the opening day of the season against Angers.

"When Casimir Ninga gave me the ball, he played it pretty strongly to my right. My initial thought was to hit it first time with the left. But I couldn't. I controlled and my control wasn't good… that's when I saw Vanden Borre make a run behind me and I thought I would use him as a decoy. I tried my luck, tried to curl it well and it went in."

"I want to score more than in the past"

Boudebouz is hungrier now for goals than he was in the early part of his career.

"Today I want to score more than in the past and that's also a reason, the desire to score. When I first started playing I was a forward. I'm a goal scorer and you don't lose that.  People have always told me, still today: you have a great shot on you, I don't understand why, when you have the chance, you pass instead of shooting. Well this season, I told myself I will shoot if I have the chance."

Today, Boudebouz is considered one of the best players in Ligue 1, but he has had to work at it. After a promising debut at Sochaux, his pure talent wasn't enough.

"There's always a lot of talk about young players with quality when they emerge from an academy. It's hard to keep your feet on the ground. If you don't have someone looking out for you, you can get carried away. You get your first break, you're playing, you're happy but you don't think it's a real job. You never say: 'this is my job, I have to look after my body now because it's my work tool'. When you're young, you don't realise it, but it can hurt you three or four years later.

"I sleep a lot more than I used to"

"That's what happened to me and happens to a lot of players. If you don’t have a professional lifestyle, it's hard to be a professional. Today I sleep a lot more than I used to, I am very careful about what I eat and I work a lot more than before. If you want to keep progressing, if you want to be like the best, you have to be as demanding of yourself as possible, to be as good as you can be."

For lovers of fine football, Boudebouz is candy for the eyes.  Since debuting in Ligue 1 in 2008, through to today at the Stade de La Mosson, the playmaker has been bamboozling opponents to the delight of his supporters.

"I was fortunate enough to have two older brothers who also dribbled all the time and I was inspired by them. I was lucky that they took me to play with them when I was very young. I was the smallest, I couldn't compete physically, so I had to find other skills. I learnt how to dribble and it stayed with me. When I'm on the pitch, I don't think about what I'm doing, it just comes instinctively. When the moment arrives, you just think, 'I can do that to beat my man'. It's natural and you grow up with it. You were better than the others in your position, but there's no explanation, you can't explain it."


"Sometimes I do it because we're winning, for the fans, to bring the crowd to their feet, but I always try to be as efficient as possible. I think if you dribble, it has to be for a reason. Obviously sometimes you have to play simple, accelerate the play, but if you have inside you, you have to use it, you mustn't let anyone take it away from you, because if you lose it, you lose your football. You can't please everyone. If tomorrow, you're going to be whistled and jeered, the fans are against you, but if you dribble and pass the ball well, they'll be happy. Whether you're good or bad, people are going to talk, so you should do what you're good at, what you like, enjoy yourself and do your best for the team."

This summer, Ryad Boudebouz will be the subject of much transfer attention. At 27 years of age, and after an entire career in France, he feels he's ready for an overseas experience.

Set for new challenge, Champions League ambitions

"I have been told I can leave. I want a new challenge, something new, to push me even further, even outside of France – I'm not closing any doors – I'm open to everything, but I want it to be a club that plays good football, with a coach that wants to play with the possession, a club where I can do what I'm good at. I can't go and play for a team that plays long-ball football. What would I do in a team like that? Nice are a team that play good football, but I have time to make the right choice."

"I want to go as far as possible. and when I say that, I mean, I watch other players playing in the Champions League and ask myself, why aren't I playing there? In all humility, and with all due respect, I want to hear that music on a Tuesday and Wednesday night and play the Champions League. I've already played at the World Cup, but it will be one of my biggest regrets if I never play in the Champions League."

>> PLAYER PAGE: Ryad Boudebouz

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