Sneijder: 'Stay at the highest level'

Ligue 1 Conforama > News

Newly signed OGC Nice playmaker Wesley Sneijder spoke to the press on Tuesday, making clear that his arrival on the Côte d'Azur has little to do with anything other than pure footballing ambition.

Sneijder, 33, arrived on a free transfer after the mutual cancellation of his contract with Turkish side Galatasaray and got straight to work, hitting the training field before fronting the press on Tuesday.

"I'm really proud!" beamed Sneijder, the Netherlands' most-capped player (131 appearances, 31 goals). "I'm here to help the team, stay at the highest level and continue showing my qualities. I feel good, the squad is very good. They play good football."

'I am confident'

After four seasons in Turkish football, where he won two league titles, three cups and two supercups, the time was right for a change and the silky-skilled former Ajax, Real Madrid and Inter playmaker was drawn to Les Aiglons' project.

"I have always taken my decisions to experience new adventures and take on new challenges. I have done a lot of things in my career, I've won a lot of trophies, but I'm still hungry and I have come here to win trophies!" he explained before running the rule over his new side. "I have seen the team's performances, the system: I didn't just discover Nice when they played Ajax. They're a team with young elements who want to play football. I am confident. And personally, the older I get, the better I feel."

All about the football

With Neymar madness having hit Ligue 1 Conforama last week, the star power in French football spiked, but Sneijder was quick to explain that such things played no part in his decision.

"Great talents and good players help a league develop, but - to be honest - I didn't come here for that. The most important thing for me is the team, and in this team, there are excellent players with a good attitude. I'm here for that, not because Zlatan has played in France or Neymar has come," declared the Dutchman, who played with Nice teammate Mario Balotelli at Inter in season 2009-2010. "I know Balotelli, but to make my decisions, I don't speak to other players. I speak to the coach, the club."

Leadership role, World Cup dream

Sneijder - who believes strongly that Nice have every chance of winning their play-off against Napoli for a place in the Champions League group stage - brings a wealth of experience to the side that took third place in Ligue 1 Conforama last season, and is looking to help lift the club even higher.

"Of course I've matured, but I'm still a winner. I hate losing, that's just the way it is. And when I have to show my character, I do it. I hope the youngsters will follow me so we can do good things," said Nice's new number 10, who also has personal ambitions to tend to. "The World Cup in Russia? Of course I'd love to play in it. But I have to have a good season with Nice to be able to dream of that.

Favre: 'Obviously an excellent player'

Meanwhile, new coach Lucien Favre didn't declare outright whether Sneijder will be ready for Friday night's Week 2 Ligue 1 Conforama clash with promoted Troyes, but gave the impression that his Dutch master will be in action sooner rather than later.

"He's a winner. He wasn't far off being the Ballon d'Or, so he's obviously an excellent player," said Sneijder's new coach Lucien Favre. "He did half the training session today [Tuesday] and he was very present. He will just need a couple of days to get into the swing of things as he didn't have a pre-season, but he should be in top form very quickly."

OGC Nice-ESTAC Troyes kicks off at 19:00 on Friday, August 11.

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