Majeed Waris: 'I always want to score more'
Back in Ligue 1 after a stint in Turkey, Majeed Waris - who excelled with Valenciennes two seasons ago - is feeling settled in his new home: the quiet coastal town of Lorient.
The Ghana striker made a name for himself in France during an electric six-month spell at Valenciennes, where he scored nine goals in 16 games and nearly saved the northerners from relegation. Having had tougher times with Spartak Moscow and more recently Trabzonspor, Waris is delighted to be back in the familiar surrounds of Ligue 1.
"I think when I went to Russia, then when I went to Turkey, I wanted to come back to France. I thought that was where I would develop properly in footballing terms. I always been that way: if I am happy, that is when I give my best!" Waris told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS. "For me I was happy because I was coming back to one of the best leagues in the world. As you can see we have a very nice beach, not too busy, I like places like this, but it does rain a lot. It's good when you are playing and it is raining, but not when you are training. But it's good."
Derby struggle for signature
Signing Waris was a real coup for modest Lorient, who splashed 5 million euros on the in-demand striker.
"We were in a proper tussle with our neighbours Rennes, who were offering twice as much as we were," said Lorient's vice-chairman Alex Hayes. "We had Loïc Féry, who was just calm, saying 'Stick with our principles. We're going to pay a record transfer to get the player. Then after that let's just sell him on what we're about'. And we did that."
The race for Waris' signature went to the wire - so much so that there were representatives from both Rennes and Lorient to greet him at the airport.
"I saw some people but I didn't actually know what was happening exactly," wairs recalled. "I know that there were lots of clubs, not only Rennes. I nearly joined Lille as well, but there were some issues."
Lorient ultimately got their man - to the delight of coach Sylvain Ripoll, who knew that the pacy striker would fit in perfectly with the club's short-passing style.
"We know his game well," said Lorient coach Sylvain Ripoll. "He's very fast over short distances - he can make the difference in short sprints. He's a lively, instinctive player."
And Waris feels that just as he is a good fit for Lorient, the club is a good fit for him.
"We play very good football, we pass the ball, even sometimes when we lose we still try to play football, which I think is very important," offered the Ghanaian. "It's good for my style of play as well because it involves lots of movement and lots of passing of the ball."
Waris was soon doing what he loves best: scoring in Ligue 1. Three strikes in his first six games for Lorient hinted at a prolific campaign, but the forward's season has been disrupted by disciplinary issues - and notably a red card and full-on tantrum in the Brittany derby against Guingamp.
"I had the perfect chance to shoot, but the guy just drove me out. He pulled me down, and the referee said play on. I went, I didn't even want to kick the guy. I just wanted to scare him," he admitted. "I made a tackle which I think was not good. Then the fans started to shout... and that was the beginning of everything."
Waris was handed a six-match ban, but upon his return the 24 year-old misbehaved again, this time refusing to acknowledge the coach when he was subbed early on against Montpellier.
"His attitude wasn't good for a while - he knows that and he was honest enough to admit it," explained Ripoll. "He has accepted what happened and now he's returned in very determined mood, and that's the way it should be."
Back on track
Guingamp felt the full wrath of the new, reformed Waris in the return derby match last month.
"To be honest, before the game I didn't actually think about what happened in the last game," he recalled. "All what I knew is that Guingamp are coming to Lorient and we have to kill them."
Rather than losing his nerve, the diminutive attacker struck two goals to help Les Merlus win one of the most exciting derbies of modern times by four goals to three.
"It's always like that since when I was a kid. I have played in places where the fans are so close to you someone can even hit you," he smiled. "For me, it's fun to play this kind of games."
'I want to score more'
With seven goals in 16 appearances, including three in his last three outings, Waris' season is up and running at last, and the fiery Ghanaian has no intention of stopping now.
"Every game I want to score," he declared. "I want to fight really hard for the team to get three points. Even when I score five goals in one game it's not enough, I want to score more."