One of our summer recruits, Kévin Théophile-Catherine spoke with Cardiff City match programme CF11 recently – the talented French U21 International giving us an insight to his introduction to life in South Wales following the move from Rennes.
Here is a selection of the interview with Mark Denham and Callum Davies, starting with how the Cardiff City defender is settling in.
KÉVIN: I knew that Cardiff had been following my progress for a while. So when I arrived I didn’t ask any questions, I just got on with playing and gave everything I had on the field and in training.
Cardiff is a city that is very similar to what I was used to at Rennes. Neither is too big nor too small, meaning there are interesting things to discover and do in both. I’m really enjoying my time at Cardiff City and playing for the Club in the Premier League. We’re doing well and I hope that continues as I’m sure it will.
I’m really happy that the supporters are helping to bring the best out of me - it’s really important to any player that they have that support. The Cardiff fans are always making a lot of noise and they make us want to win even more. It’s completely different to Rennes, there’s no comparison really. There’s much more atmosphere here at Cardiff City. I’m always looking to get as much game-time as possible, and repay the faith put in me by the Manager, Club and our supporters.
CF11: Tell us a bit about your background Kévin. How did you get into the game and who were your influences as a young football in Brittany?
KÉVIN: I watched a lot of football when I was a kid. I grew up as a fan of PSG, but nowadays I don’t watch football in quite the same way. I love football though, and it’s my job; having those two things as one is a joy.
I watched lots of English football when I was growing up; Manchester United was my team and my favourite player was Paul Scholes. I also used to like watching George Weah of AC Milan when I was young but now, because I’m a defender, I tend to focus on defensive players. It’s true that the Premier League is the great division that it is thanks to the atmosphere created by the fans who sing throughout the game and make so much noise. I’d already experienced playing at Celtic Park before I moved to Cardiff, and it made me realise then that British football is on another level altogether.
CF11: Coming from Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, in North-West France, was Rennes the obvious big club to head for as a youngster?
KÉVIN: I would say probably so. Saint-Brieuc and Rennes are only an hour’s drive away from each other. So obviously my family lived near the club, and since it’s been the best place for young players in France to develop for years, it was an easy choice for me to go to Rennes.
CF11: Did the geographical setting of Saint-Brieuc and the common place of the English language in that region draw you towards the British game in conjunction with the French?
Well, as I say, I was always a fan of Manchester United in conjunction with PSG as a youngster. What’s similar between Brittany and Great Britain is the weather, so I’m neither surprised nor saddened by the weather here this week! With regard to football, it’s completely different though. There is far more intensity in the British game than in the French and the pace of the game is a lot quicker over here. I certainly enjoyed British football growing up.KÉVIN:
CF11: You’ve been capped by France at youth levels up to under-21. You must hope that your move to the Barclays Premier League – and the fact that you’ve hit the ground running – will improve your prospects of breaking into the senior side in the future?
KÉVIN:I think every player hopes to represent their country at the highest level if the opportunity is there. I’ll have to work hard every day if I am to achieve that goal, but I’m still only 23 years old and have time on my side. If anybody was to say that they didn’t want to end up playing in their national team, then that would mean they have no ambition. I am ambitious. I want to develop alongside Cardiff City in the coming months and then, why not be in contention?
CF11: Admittedly you’ve only been with us since the end of August, but has there been a highlight for you during your short time here just yet?
KÉVIN: My first three matches have been pretty memorable in their own ways. My first game for the club at Hull was great because it was my debut. Even the game against Tottenham, although we lost to a late goal, was my first match at Cardiff City Stadium in front of an amazing crowd. They were so loud, and the whole atmosphere gave me goosebumps. Then the third match against Fulham last week, with Jordon’s late goal, was just brilliant.
Again, I remember seeing the supporters go crazy at the end behind the goal which was nothing like I’d ever seen before. So I’d say all three games have been different in their own way; they’ve offered different experiences. For me, it’s all about the supporters. Their reaction and support has made a big impression on me already.
CF11: How have you found the settling in period at Cardiff City? Has it helped to have one or two French speakers around to help you, despite you already having a good grasp of English?
KÉVIN: I get on with everyone here, they are all nice guys. I haven’t really got a best friend as such, but obviously I get on well with Rudy because he’s French and if there’s anything I don’t understand, he helps me! The players have taken a lot of interest in me, which was surprising. This has made me feel good about the place, and has given me the desire to do my very best on the field.
CF11: How important has the Manager, his coaches and staff been to you personally?
KÉVIN:The manager, the assistant manager, the physios, the staff, they have all made me feel very welcome. The Gaffer is a great coach - he works closely with the players, motivates us, and gives us the desire to win and give our all for Cardiff City Football Club. Everyone here works really hard – before, during and after training. It’s very clear to see. That’s another thing that’s really different to how it sometimes is in France. Here, there are a lot of young players with great desire, but the more experienced ones work equally as hard to get even better.
I’ve learned a lot since arriving here - especially about the intensity of the British game. Something always dramatic seems to happen in the Premier League, even if you are playing against a big club or if it’s 0-0 at half time. In reality, it’s like a spectacle. With matches in this league, you’ve never won until the final whistle. Football in general is like that, but not as much as it is here. We lost in the last minute against Spurs - then at Fulham, we scored in the last minute for a great win. Crazy!
CF11: What are your ambitions for the rest of this season and beyond?
KÉVIN: My goal for the season is to help us maintain our Premier League status, and play as much as possible while giving my very best. If we do well this season, then positive things will follow naturally as we progress.
CF11: And finally Kévin, with a World Cup fast approaching, can France lift the trophy in Brazil? Like many Cardiff City players this season, you’ll be hoping to be in consideration for a place on the plane we’d imagine?
KÉVIN:Well, I’m French, I support France and we’ll see what team goes to Brazil for the World Cup. We haven’t qualified yet but I hope we do, and I hope to be a part of it. There are so many teams that could win it next year. There are a lot of internationals at the club, like Kimbo, Gunnar, Steven, Fraizer and Gary Medel who could all be out there. As for myself, we’ll see; I’m still young and if I’m not selected, it’ll be because I’m still developing my game. But yes, it’s certainly an ambition of mine to go to Brazil next year which means I’ll need to continue to be consistent for Cardiff City.
if using quotes from this interviewcardiffcityfc.co.ukPlease ensure to clearly credit