Benjamin Stambouli has spoken out following his move to Tottenham from Ligue 1 side Montpellier. Here is the full interview with L’Equipe:
Benjamin Stambouli, your departure from Montpellier has been slow to materialize this summer, did you have your doubts?
‘I know that in this period, it can be quiet for a while and then anything can happen in a hurry. There had been a lot of proposals, but I allowed myself time to choose. In these times, everyone has a tendency to give you advice on where you have to sign. I thought about weighing the pros and cons with people who are close to me. And then, when Tottenham came last week, it sounded like a no-brainer. A club like that can not be refused. I did not hesitate.’
What were your first contacts with Tottenham?
A person of the club came to me last week in Montpellier. I felt they really wanted me. I met Mauricio Pochettino today (Monday). He still has good small remnants of speaking French (he played at Paris-SG and Bordeaux). This is a coach who wants to establish a philosophy of game I like. I had a very good feeling. I got a home that looks like a family. Tomorrow I start training.
Have you no fear of competition at Spurs?
‘Places will be hard to come by, as it is the highest level. The workforce has grown enough to cope with all competitions. There are a lot of people but it does not cause me any problems. We forget but I lived through strong competition in Montpellier.’
You could sign for Marseille, which would have been an intermediate step before moving abroad.
‘I said since April: I had a preference for overseas. It is a personal choice of life. I wanted to discover another footballing country, another culture. Playing for Marseille, it is not easy. And I had no guarantees to play my position in the middle. It was not the right time. But OM made me think seriously.’
Was it also your father, Henri (former director of training center), who deterred you from going there?
‘Obviously I asked him how things work in the club. He knows and he has a very positive image. In his opinion, he tried to tell me what was good but what was worse in Marseille. But that does not explain why I hesitated for so long. My thinking was focused on my job on the field and my career development. It was not the right time for me to go. It was between Swansea, which was an entry in the Premier League, Fiorentina, which is a competitive team, and Marseille, one of the best French clubs, and I was not sure where to turn. At that time, it was very complicated. And then Tottenham happened …’