Jordan Ferri: "I've always seen my size as an asset".

Jordan Ferri: "I've always seen my size as an asset".

Publish on 04/12 at 14:52 - G. BOXALL


Now in his 12th season in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, Montpellier's Jordan Ferri - scorer of his first goal of the season at HAC on Sunday - explains how having a small frame is not a disadvantage when you play in midfield. Interview.

You recently passed the 325-match mark in Ligue 1 Uber Eats. How did you manage to become a key midfielder in the league despite your size (1.72 m)?

Short midfielders have always existed. I think it's one of the few positions where height isn't an issue, because in defence or attack, it's harder to impose yourself. After that, you have to do a lot of work, from strengthening your athleticism to developing your game intelligence, to try and compensate for this lack of height.

Is that something that came up a lot at the start of your career?

No! Football is pretty heterogeneous. There are all sorts of players with different sizes and physiques. I've never been criticised for not being tall enough. On the contrary, it's been an asset! And I've always made sure that it was. I've never seen it as a disadvantage. Over time, I got used to playing against people bigger than me, whether in terms of height or muscle mass, and I tried to adapt to that as best I could.

How do you manage to handle duels differently despite being smaller than some players?

Firstly, even if you have a height deficit, you shouldn't shy away from duels. In midfield, there are countless duels, impossible to avoid, so you have to show that you also have athletic resilience. Then, as I mentioned earlier, you need to have better positioning, a developed tactical understanding, and be as precise as possible technically to buy time and avoid certain duels. All these aspects of the midfield position help to cope with larger opponents.

Do you have a secret to handling duels with taller players?

When the ball is on the ground, it's simple - it's the one who puts in the most impact, who has the most desire to come away with the ball, who wins the duel. Unfortunately, in the air, I haven't found the right solution yet. Little pushes in the back? Referees are very vigilant now. However, in midfield, aerial duels make up only a tiny percentage of the balls touched in a match. What's important when you lose one is to be present for the second ball and to recover it. In this position, it's crucial! It helps compensate for lost aerial duels.

"Smaller players bring variety to midfield"

So, which type of midfield opponent do you prefer to face?

I don't really have a preference. But I'm less bothered by playing against a tall, ultra-physical player than a smaller one with a lot of agility. Smaller players make it very difficult to win the ball from them. However, in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, we mostly face midfielders who are very athletic.

Have you specifically worked on certain aspects to turn them into strengths?

Firstly, we naturally have a strong point: our center of gravity. Since it's significantly lower than that of taller players, we put them in difficulty when they have to mark us. We bring variety to the midfield. Then, I really worked on all aspects of a midfielder's game from the beginning of my career to be as competitive as possible and for as long as possible.

Were you ever forced to work on aerial duels at any point in your career?

No! Jumping ability, the way to jump, it's something we work on every season with different fitness coaches, but I've never been asked to focus on that. Winning more aerial duels has never been a personal goal. It's an aspect I worked on like any other.

Do you see your height as an advantage or a disadvantage?

It's been over ten years since I've been in Ligue 1 Uber Eats (first match played in December 2012). Let's say I've managed with it (smile). I've always tried to refine my style of play, to make it an asset and to be disadvantaged as little as possible.

"My yellow cards? It's more a question of temperament"

Is it easier to receive a ball to orient yourself and get into the flow of the game because of your stature?

I don't know, I've never been tall (laughs). I can't tell you how tall players do it, but it certainly helps because the position demands being as available and mobile as possible to try to advance the team's game. But now we also see tall players being very technical and able to eliminate and break lines as well as us. There are really all kinds of physiques, and that's what makes the position beautiful.

Is it because of your stature that you put a lot of impact into duels?

When you want to win the ball back, you have to constantly put in intensity. It's often said that the midfield battle determines the outcome of a match, so if you win it, you already have control of the match. That's why it's very important to be present in this area.

Since your debut in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, you are the fourth midfielder to have received the most yellow cards (60). Is that related?

No! I would say it's more a question of temperament. It's due to the intensity I put into duels, to some clumsiness too... It's part of the position to have a lot of duels to play, to sometimes commit fouls to break up an opponent's play, and referees rightly penalize them. So, it's not related to my height, but to my temperament and style of play.


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