Kakuta: Making up for lost time
When Gael Kakuta netted the first top flight goal of Amiens' history, the fleet-footed midfielder showed a glimpse of the talent that saw him billed as a future great a decade ago. Interview…
As he looks to re-ignite a career that has never reached predicted heights, the 26-year-old appears to be on the right track.
He told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS: "Yes it's good! I'm happy also because I made history of a club. That's something that will stay there forever! Now I will have the fans behind me so it's a plus for me as well and something that I need also!"
Amiens "was the best challenge"
Some may be surprised to see Kakuta playing for Ligue 1 minnows Amiens, but coming back to northern France, where things began for him, was a gamble the Lille-born midfielder was prepared to take.
"In the years before I would never say that I would come to Amiens, but yes, I'm happy to be here because things are going very well. It was a big decision to take, a big challenge for myself as well. I had to think about it a lot with myself, my family, my wife. I had a few options in England and in other countries but I thought, for me, this was the best challenge."
The gifted playmaker is determined to continue the bright start he has made to life at the Stade de la Licorne, during his season-long loan spell from Hebei China Fortune. Amiens is Kakuta's 11th footballing home, and the road to Picardie has been a long and treacherous one.
"I came all the way from China so a very, very long road. People have been talking a lot about me since I was 15-years-old and they've been expecting a lot from me as well. But yes, there have been a lot of ups and downs but now I'm here to do everything, to make everything right and show what I am capable of."
Ever since leaving Lens for Chelsea aged 15, Kakuta has struggled to live up to his superstar billing, and loan spells at Fulham, Bolton, Dijon, Lazio and Rayo Vallecano failed to bear their fruits. The constant changing of clubs began to raise questions and the quiet family man earned himself a bad reputation, perhaps a little unfairly.
"People start saying ‘enfant terrible' and all these things, which is not true because I come to training and I work hard, then I go home I don't cheat. Ok before they could say I don't work but that was the past, after my first loan which I spent in Fulham, I was working very hard. After that I wasn't making any problems for people, maybe people are not happy because I don't speak a lot but that's it.
"I've been unlucky"
"Sometimes you go to a place where the sporting director wants you and you end up there seeing that the coach is not happy that you're here! Like I say, in Lazio I was working very hard every day but it was like he was blind! Why would I stay? You treat me like a slave for six months and then you want me to stay! And yes, so things are like that and it's life unfortunately I've been unlucky as well but like I say I take everything positive and be happy!"
Although he made just 16 appearances for Chelsea – becoming the club's youngest ever player to play in the Champions League – Kakuta still keeps a special place in his heart for the London club.
"It's where I made my debut and where I learned everything about football so Chelsea is a little bit, not a little bit, still my biggest club that I always love and always support. And yes I had really good experiences there, I worked with most of the best coaches in the world and most of the best players in the world and for me it's very positive because now I'm 26-years-old and I'm not saying I know everything about football but I've learned a lot."
"If I do well then the respect will come"
Amiens fans will now be hoping the former French youth star – who now plays for DR Congo – is finally about to deliver on his immense promise.
"If I do well then the respect will come as well and I will respect myself more because if I can bring all my quality to the club and keep the club in the first division then I've won a challenge as well!
"All my family is happy, I'm happy, I don't need anything, we have everything we want. I believe in god so I leave everything in god's hands so… my day will come and that's it, that's how I think."