If you are a journalist or operating fan media of any type – grateful if you can credit TF if you intend plagiarising the TRUE FAITH translation. Ta. 

Part 1 of the Interview is here 

Speaking exclusively to RMC Sport, Allan Saint-Maximin opened up at length on very personal aspects of his life, on his aspirations, and his desire to play again one day for the French national side. Click here for full interview from the original source – it’s in French

 Part 2: From Saint-Étienne to Newcastle

You signed your first professional contract in July 2013. At 16 years, 5 months, and 17 days, you became the third youngest player in Saint-Étienne’s history. How did you feel?

It was a dream come true. It meant that everything I’d said when I was young – and continued to say – had happened. I had quite a few people who came to me, people who knew me, who had heard me speak. They were a little stunned. They were saying to themselves, “He’s talked about it since the beginning, but now he’s a professional and even more quickly than we could have thought”

What’s your opinion about the way young players are managed?

For me, there’s a real problem of what I would call “comprehension”. There are so many good players that they spend less time on them. I’ll give you a simple example: in Germany or in England, if there are 5 superstars, then they’ll really take care of them, because they know that they might have to wait for two or three years before having any more of them. And even beyond that way of thinking, everyone is treated pretty much the same way. What I’m trying to say is that there’s a lot of favouritism in France. When you have talent, there are things that you’re allowed to do, that others aren’t. I know that at the time there were plenty of things that were let go.

Like what, for example?

Everything. For example, when you arrive late, they won’t say much to you because you’re the best. I didn’t have any real trouble because I was always made to understand that it was important to arrive on time.

Some coaches have blinkers, is that what you’re saying?

Yes, obviously. I’ve seen it myself. You arrive two minutes late and no-one says anything at all, whereas, bizarrely, they have words with a reserve-team player who arrives late. When you’re playing, you benefit too much from the system, and that’s where you can  get into a bit of a negative spiral. But again, I was young at the time. We were young. And when I talk about comprehension, it’s about understanding, being tuned in, not being part of the negative system, if you see what I mean. When a child does something, makes a mistake, or uses words they shouldn’t, then you have to try and understand. What’s happened in his family, what’s happened today that explains why he wasn’t at his match? All these things are incredibly important. I discovered that quite simply by playing abroad.

On 8 February 2014 you extended your contract with Saint-Etienne until 2019, but didn’t play another season with the club. What was that period like for you?

Financially, lots of people were unhappy with my contract extension. The new contract was problematic. People were asking why I was earning so much at that age, said that I didn’t deserve it, that it wasn’t normal. There were also all the things that happened with agents. Again, I was intelligent enough to understand what was happening, and it was all fair and square. I wasn’t expecting it, didn’t think I would sign a new contract. When it happened, there was nothing more for me to do other than go along with it, but it was a very difficult moment for me. I found myself in an office with people much older than me, who put a lot of pressure on me, who said I would never play again, that they would send me to the 3rd or 4th division. I was young. It was difficult to hear those things, but, again, I had the intelligence to know that all of it wasn’t true. Once I saw that things were happening like that, the most important thing for me was to find a way out.

You signed for Monaco on a five-year contract but went on loan to Hannover for two years. At the beginning of April, the coach was sacked, another one arrived, and you had a car accident. You crashed into a tramline and gave false papers. You were thrown out of the team and didn’t play again that season. Correct?

No.

What happened then?

The accident happened later. When the new coach arrived, we were in a difficult situation. He came to see me. He told me that if I wanted to play again, wanted to be able to express myself, have some game time, then I would have to extend my loan by a year. That way I would be able to establish myself a little in the long term. So obviously I was going to be involved and give everything to ensure we weren’t relegated, because if I extended my loan, then I would be part of relegation with them. I was also asked to reduce my salary. I said no. And that’s where all the little problems are connected, because I wasn’t playing anymore, and football is my life. I play football in order to play, to be in the stands or on the bench and watch other players. Psychologically, that was very difficult. I was extremely worried.

But there would be a happy event: the birth of your daughter. What changes did fatherhood bring for you?

Everything. My way of thinking. Everything changes.

How do your children live with your fame?

My son isn’t bothered too much at the moment. He’s still young. To be honest, my girls don’t like it much. I hadn’t imagined that there would be people who would kneel in front of me or who would cry and give me their phone. I would never have thought of any of those things because I never expected to be so well known. I try to tell them not to listen to everything that’s said, that I’m a normal person like everyone else, that I go to the toilet like everyone else, that I do everything like everyone else, so that they become aware of what life is really like. There’s what everyone says – he’s the best looking, he’s the strongest, he’s like this or like that –but there’s also a reality. Everyone is like everyone else, and illness affects everyone. It’s really nice to have a few zeroes on your bank balance , but there are lots of things more important than that for us.

And if one of your children wanted to play football, how would you react?

(Sighs) I’m not keen, I’ll be honest. After everything I’ve experienced and the impact football has had on me, I don’t want them to go into football, to be honest. Later, if it’s what he really wants to do, I’ll support him. Because the most important thing for me is that he’s happy. But if I had the choice, I would prefer he didn’t play football.

On 8 August 2017, you became the most expensive ever signing for Nice. At the time you confessed that if football hadn’t worked out, you would have wanted to follow your mother’s example (as head of a nursery school). Why?

That’s a project that I still have at the moment, and I’m obviously using football to achieve it.

What’s that project?

It’s very simple. It’s to give an opportunity to children who are gifted, or not, to be better supported, to give them the best possible chance to be successful in life.

You’re very much driven by the affective, by stimulation. What is it that stimulates you?

I’ve always liked people who say no to me. Because then I can turn that no into a yes. You say I’m not going to succeed? OK, we’ll see. And push back my limits. That’s why I’ve always thought about that: the only limit is the one I impose on myself, and the only failure would be to give up.

You came to Nice. You met Patrick Vieira there. What was your relationship like?

To be honest, I saw him again recently – that made me laugh. The first thing he said to me was: “It’s good. Are you happy to see your favourite coach?” He’s someone who I appreciate. I knew he had a lot of pressure. And sometimes it’s the same kind of thing, a feeling that someone is being a little too hard on you, when there wasn’t really any interest in being so.

Do you think you’re a difficult player?

Not at all. Quite the opposite. Very few coaches can say that I’ve set off a bomb in the dressing-room. From that point on… and I see it even more now, you would have to ask Steve Bruce to know whether I was difficult to manage. So, no. Difficult to understand on some things perhaps, but difficult to manage, not at all.

How would you describe your character?

Very stubborn, maybe. I don’t like… I detest hypocrisy. It’s something that’s caused me a lot of problems, especially in this environment. For example, a coach who comes to see me and tellsme: “Allan, it’s brilliant what you’re doing in training. Continue making this or that run. It’ll pay off.” If I hear him or see him saying something completely different to someone else, that’s something that drives me mad. I’m giving this example because it’s something that happens a lot in football. I reckon that when you’re capable of doing that to one person, you can do it to anyone.

Why do you play professional football: for pleasure, for the feeling, or for the performance?

(He thinks) Right at the beginning, it was for pleasure. I wasn’t too bothered about the rest. The only thing I wanted was to take pleasure in it, to amuse myself, and then this pleasure actually changed more and more into the performance. When I arrived at Newcastle, with all the French players who had failed at Newcastle – a few succeeded there, but many also failed – I was told that I’d made the worst decision in my career, that I would fail, that I would never play… But I was made so incredibly welcome at Newcastle. The fans have given me so much love. And when I see my team in tricky situations or obviously in danger of being relegated each season, you can’t think about pleasure anymore. You have to think about your performance. And that comes down to statistics.

And it’s been at Newcastle that you’ve realised that?

I became aware of it at Nice, but it’s at Newcastle that I’ve begun to apply it. I’ve given everything. It’s complicated, but people who really know football know exactly what I’ve done at Newcastle…

Translated by Matthew Philpotts – @Mjp19731