Dagba: 'Tough times helped me at PSG'
Colin Dagba has told This is Paris the trials and tribulations of the early stages of his career helped him develop the strength to make the grade at Paris Saint-Germain.
The 21-year-old full-back is now a bona fide member of the first team, making 17 Ligue 1 Conforama appearances last season while he has already featured in three top-flight matches this term.
Training every day alongside globally renowned superstars such as Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappé and Angel Di Maria has become commonplace for the France U21 international, but it seemed an unlikely scenario when Dagba was released by Lens aged 13.
"At first I thought I would stay at lens and in the end, they let me go because Lens disbanded one of the teams in my age group. Already at that age, it was a huge disappointment. I was really very sad. I felt especially bad for my parents, I felt I hadn’t done enough for them and I was very sad for them," he explained.
"Those difficult moments have really helped me now. first of all, to make sure I always keep pushing myself because I think I was too comfortable in lens. I understood I had to work hard if I wanted to get where I wanted to go. I was able to pick myself up at Boulogne."
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It was after three years on the Channel coast that PSG became aware of his abilities, and signed him up in 2016. If the bright lights of the French capital were a major change to provincial Boulogne, so the switch to a big club brought a step up in what was expected of him.
"When you sign for Paris, you know now its football and nothing else, you give 200 per cent," he said. "Between Boulogne and Paris, that was the biggest difference, you have to be completely focused, the intensity of training, of your teammates, and the quality as well.
"You don’t have these players in every side, but it’s ok. Nearly everyone speaks French now, so its pretty simple and we have a small group of kids that all get along well. it’s cool."
No doubt Dagba thought his first-team debut, in the 2018 Trophée des Champions win over AS Monaco, was cool too. With the 2018 FIFA World Cup meaning a number of first-team regulars were still to start pre-season, Thomas Tuchel gave the youngster an opportunity and a major boost to his self-belief.
"The coach gave me my chance, he picked me for the preseason tour and those first matches of last season," he explained. "I think the fact that there was a World Cup helped me because there were a few players missing. he gave me lot of confidence but also taught me about hard work, and discipline. the little details and I try and do what he says."