Fit and firing, Olympique Lyonnais captain Nabil Fekir is enjoying a tremendous season. Interview with the French international forward…
For the Lyon fans, their favourite moment of 2017 was probably Nabil Fekir holding up his shirt in front of the Saint Etienne supporters, celebrating OL's biggest away win in the history of the Rhone-Alpes derby.
Fekir told The Ligue 1 Show in beIN SPORTS: "It was the fifth goal and 5-0's quite special, especially when you know how big a match the derby is. It was just a moment of pure joy. It was an important game, especially for me because I'm Lyon through and through. I don't regret celebrating like that, I just regret the crowd disturbances after it."
Season's best equalled
For Fekir, that was just one of many strong memories from the first half of the season. Operating as a number 10, the France forward has excelled, already equalling his best tally for an entire campaign with 13 strikes. Among those, a host of important goals such as the last-minute winner against Monaco.
"I'm satisfied with the way I performed in the first half of the season, even if I had a few subpar displays. That's the way it is in football, you can't always be at your best, but overall I'm pretty pleased."
Fekir's blossoming career was interrupted by a serious knee injury in 2015, but 24-year-old is now back to his best: "The injury did hold me back, no question. But it always helped me to become mentally stronger. It made me realise how lucky I am to be able to play football and to be in good health."
The decision of Lyon coach Bruno Genesio to hand the young attacker the captaincy last summer looks like an inspired move: "I speak out more in the dressing room now. I've got a lot more responsibility too. I try to encourage my teammates, to give them confidence, and also to help out the younger players who have just arrived in the squad. That's something I've been through so it's important for me to pass on advice, give them confidence and encourage them.
"I'm Lyon born and bred and I've always been a Lyon fan, even when the club decided they didn't want to keep me, I still kept Lyon in my heart. This club has given me everything, it's enabled me to live out my dream and if I'm where I am today it's thank to Lyon."
Fekir will lead Lyon back into action against Angers on Sunday. Nothing other than a victory will be good enough for OL as they try to hang on to PSG's coattails in the title race.
"Hard to compete for the title"
"When you have a team like Paris St Germain in your league it's hard to compete for the title. Of course it is frustrating, but we're not giving up. We'll keep on giving our best, aiming to finish as high as possible, because it's going to tough with Monaco and Marseille. It'll be a real fight until the end."
2018 could be a special year for Nabil Fekir, who is pushing hard for a place in Didier Deschamps' World Cup squad. Les Bleus are spoilt for choice in the attacking positions, but if Fekir keeps up his current form it would very hard to leave him out.
"There's a lot of competition because France have so many strong players. That's a good thing for the national team, but also for us because it makes us improve. It's definitely going to be tricky because there are so many players fighting to get in the World Cup squad. It's one of the big objectives I fixed myself last summer and I'll give it my best shot."