Marseille still the most popular club - Rami

Ligue 1 Conforama > ligue1show

Adil Rami's July move to Olympique de Marseille was a coup for the Mediterranean club, as the nine-time champions' bid to return to previous glories gathered pace.

Born on the south coast, the 31-year-old knows just what playing for OM means, and, excited by the ambitious project in place, Rami left Sevilla to join his favourite club.

"When Marseille call you up, and explain their ambitions, it makes you think. Every French player dreams of playing for Olympique de Marseille, playing in the Champions League," Rami told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN Sports.

"The foundations are being put in place here and that's why I accepted, I thought 'ok this is the start of a rebuilding process', but we'll get there and that's why I'm proud to be defending Marseille's colours.


"Marseille are a superpower, say what you like but across the world, people know about OM. Our big rivals are PSG and they have invested around one billion euros to get to where they are today, but the fact is the most popular club remains Marseille. There's a history, there's a level of passion here that nobody in France can get close to."

Rami celebrating with Morgan Sanson

Marseille's last title win dates back seven years now. But the club recruited an experienced spine in the summer, from goalkeeper Steve Mandanda to Rami in defence, former Champions League winner Luiz Gustavo in midfield, and Greece international Kostas Mitrouglou in attack. The latter's debut goal last week showed a glimpse of what may follow.

"It's promising yes! He's not your typical player. I've rarely come across someone like him in my career because he's so discreet, calm, calculated. It looks like he doesn't feel the stress, or get that adrenaline rush before games. He's so calm, and from the little I've seen of him, he always seems to get into the right positions in the box. I think he will really improve this team."

For Rami, Luiz Gustavo is the perfect player for Marseille.

"For me, a Marseille player should be a fighter, someone who hurts the opposition, scares them when necessary, gives 100 percent each game, respects the shirt. He should do all that but keep a low profile too. That's exactly how Luiz Gustavo operates. He's an example for me and he's someone I'm learning from because I like what he gives off, what he stands for. That guy really symbolises Olympique de Marseille."

A World Cup semi-finalist with Brazil, Luiz Gustavo is one of a host of high profile players who decided to come to France this summer - a trend that helped convince Rami to return home.

"I've been seeing for some time now that Ligue 1 is growing in stature. Of course it's difficult for me to admit as a Marseille man, but PSG coming into fashion with the millions they are spending has really helped the league. Everyone now wants to watch Ligue 1, PSG and the stars here in France. It's important for our league and our country to have teams who hold their own on a European scale."

'Play to win!'

And it is indeed PSG's stars that Rami and his team-mates will be hoping to silence on Sunday, in the French international's first Classique.

Rami up against PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Valencia in the Champions League in 2013

"I'm excited! I'm excited because I love this sort of game. The first time that I played in this sort of match for Valencia, against Lionel Messi's Barcelona or Cristiano Ronaldo's Real Madrid, I felt huge pressure, and then with time, you realise you can compete and get a result. Just because it's Barca or Real you don't have to lose, you play to win! Now, we're going to host PSG, a top team, one of the best in the world at this moment in time, and I hope we play with freedom, because anything can happen, and if we put our hearts into it then we have a chance of winning!"

Perhaps it is a good omen then that Rami is one of just three players in the current Marseille squad to have already scored a goal against PSG - in the Champions League for Valencia.

"Really? Oh, that's right, in the Champions League, with my left foot!"

Working with Emery

Sunday's battle will be masterminded by two men Rami knows very well. Marseille coach Rudi Garcia led a Lille side that included Rami, to the French title, in 2011. And in the PSG dugout, Unai Emery, with whom the France international won the 2016 Europa League at Sevilla.

"You need a coach who knows how to motivate you, who knows your strengths and weaknesses. Rudi Garcia or Unai Emery… or Clarence Seedorf, they know that! And once you know what I'm capable of and you show confidence in me, then everything will go well!

"Unai Emery is a very important person for me, he has played a very important role in my career. He taught me how to understand and channel my emotions properly. And even now, on the pitch, there is a lot of Unai Emery in the way I play."

Rami's experience will be vital on Sunday in OM's quest for victory.


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