Frederic Reculeau. : “We didn’t spot anything at all. It was his agent Ismail Mouline who asked me with the president of Avranches. He absolutely wanted Azzedine to bounce back in National after his two years with the Strasbourg reserve in N3 ” Many professional clubs did not believe in him. I did not know the player but his agent insisted a lot. He saw Avranches as a springboard for Azzedine thanks in particular to our style, based on the game on the ground, in the feet and on the move. This style matched his profile.”
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Why did he not succeed in winning in Strasbourg?
F.R. : “No idea. I don’t have to judge the choice of Strasbourg. During his season at Avranches, we were in contact with professional clubs, especially in Ligue 2, and many of them did not believe in him. Except Angers SCO.”
What did you learn from your first exchanges with Azzedine Ounahi when he arrived at Avranches?
F.R. : “The first exchanges were not easy. We had to get the words out of Azzedine’s mouth. He was touched by his failure in Strasbourg. He did not imagine playing in an amateur club when he arrived in France (note: in 2018). It wasn’t easy for him. We had to make him understand that if he was at Avranches, it was for his own good. We wanted to put him in the best conditions for him to bounce back very quickly. But we had to earn his trust. Azzedine is reserved, introverted and even suspicious. He doesn’t give his trust like that. Things opened up from the moment we worked on the ground. There, he surrendered. realize that he was going to blossom through what was going to be offered to him.”
What memories do you have of his first training sessions and his first matches?
F.R. : “As much as I had a reserved Azzedine off the field, he was as fulfilled on the green rectangle. We immediately saw that he was full of talent. It’s this kind of player profile that we like to see on a football pitch. He gradually gained strength during the season in a National championship which is not easy.”
With Azzedine, it goes in the ears and comes out through the feet
In what areas of play has he progressed at Avranches?
F.R. : “When he arrived, he already had his technical qualities, acceleration and kicking game. His volume of play was there too. He was one of the boys who ran the most at Avranches. With the Strasbourg reserve , I don’t know if he has progressed much, I think it was too simple for him. In National, it became more complicated on the athletic challenge and he had trouble at the start. The idea was that he widened his palette as a player: changing areas of play, avoiding certain duels, using other foot surfaces, improving information acquisition, the penultimate pass and finishing. let him look for other things. I already thought he was going to be stronger in Ligue 1 or Ligue 2 because there are more places for this type of player to express himself. As it is a hard worker, someone intelligent and who listened to what was asked of him in the field, it was a pleasure to work with him. With Azzedine, it goes into the ears and t it comes out through the feet.”
Did he openly talk about his ambitions for the future?
F.R. : “At the start, I felt that he was sad to be at Avranches. We gave him a lot of kindness and love. From there, he responded on the pitch and opened up more and more From his misfortune to come and play in the National, he made it a strength. Because he took refuge in work and had the will to get out of there. After his ambitions, it was deep inside him. His will was to sign a professional contract. When he signed up with Angers, he was happy. Then, he wanted to join the selection of Morocco or even more if he continued his ascent.”
Azzedine Ounahi, Moroccan revelation of the 2022 World Cup, is followed by FC Barcelona.
Credit: Getty Images
Are you surprised by his World Cup?
F.R. : “No. Afterwards, I’m surprised that it goes so quickly for him. I saw every day in Avranches what I see on television today. But as I say, he plays in a defensive team so we don’t not fully see the real Azzedine. He is even stronger in the upper part of the opponent. He proved it against Spain and that’s what marked Luis Enrique. In the 110th minute, he still had his the power to accelerate, to eliminate players and to follow up with a pass for his attacker. Whether at the start or at the end of the match, he does not lose his technical quality and that is rare. We have the impression that he is never tired. That’s why he is a very high level player.”
You believe that we have not yet seen all of Azzedine Ounahi’s talent…
F.R. : “No. There, he is in his camp, dribbling and throwing himself. If you put him in the upper part to animate the game, he will not lose the ball and can trigger more decisive actions. Afterwards, you will have to talented players around him, he won’t do everything on his own. As a number 8 or 10, it’s more his profile. Afterwards, he’s a complete player, he’s capable of being very good from the when it is in the game animation.”
F.R. : “For me, it’s the ideal club for him. His style is adapted to the Spanish league. Would he exist in other major leagues? Yes, but I would have more doubts given the athletic challenge Inevitably, I see him more in Barcelona than elsewhere. Afterwards, it will take time and he will swallow the very high level matches. The more he plays in a team with high potential, the more his talent will be put forward.”
Are you still in contact with him?
F.R. : “Yes, we exchange. I send him little words to congratulate him on his performance in Angers. I will call him after the World Cup. When he left for Angers, he came back to see us three or four times in Avranches . He was grateful to the club. This is the class worthy of great players.”
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