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Mattheiu Louis-Jean

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


Position: Defender
Nationality: French
Team: Nottingham Forest FC, England
Matthieu, a former French Under 21 international, joined Nottingham Forest in September 1998 following a successful loan spell. The Martinique born defender has fully settled in Nottingham now and enjoys playing in the English league.
We talked to Matthieu about playing and living in Britain.
What were your main reasons for choosing to play in Britain?
"There were a few reasons really, I was having problems with the manager at my old club Le Havre (in France), so I needed a new club. When I was younger I enjoyed watching Liverpool and Manchester United on television. So I was glad of the opportunity to come over to England and play."
What has been your experience of the Forest fans?
"To begin with it was hard, as my English was not very good, but the one thing that struck me straight away is the fanaticism of the fans in England. Whole families come to every game and sometimes have done so for generations. Forest fans have seen their team win European Cups, so the club has a great history. It's great to be able to speak with those kinds of fans now that my English is better."
And how about your Forest team-mates?
"Much better now I speak English. I am able to join in with the jokes that the rest of the team enjoy." 
Do you enjoy living in England? Was it difficult when you first arrived? 
"It was difficult yes, mostly because of the language. It was hard to talk to the other players and the manager during training. Luckily there were some other French players at Forest and they were able to help me along.
I was a little homesick to begin with, but now my girlfriend has moved to Nottingham we are really enjoying the lifestyle." 
What were your expectations about English football and what do you feel you have brought to the game here?
"I had heard that the game was faster and more physical in England, but I was really surprised by how much. It took me a while to get used to that, but now I enjoy the challenge of it.
In England team spirit is very important, more so than in France where the coaches focussed more on tactics and individual technique. I like to think I bring a little skill and technique that perhaps is a bit lacking in English defenders." 
Do you remember your debut for Forest?
"Of course. I came on as a substitute for the last 20 minutes and after five minutes I got kicked in the eye and had to come off again. At the time I was thinking what a nightmare it was, especially as my face swelled up the next day!" 
What is your best footballing memory?
"I went to the World Cup final in 1998 in Paris. It was an incredible night and to beat the Brazilians by three goals was a great sensation. Personally, my favourite memory was my time with the French Youth Team which qualified for the European Championships."



May 2001

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