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Moussa Sissoko: “For the Euros, I give myself 10 out of 10.”

Speaking in an extensive, exclusive interview with France Football, French international and Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko looked back on the heartbreak of EURO 2016. Highlights.

On Eder’s goal…

It was a massive blow. There was not much time left. We had chances to score, but we were not able to capitalise on them. At the end of the match, something happened that we wanted to avoid. I remember that there is a throw-in for us at the beginning. The ball comes between Gignac and Griezmann who look at each other a bit, the Portuguese won the ball back and the Eder show made the difference after that.

It was really hard. During the 5 seconds after the goal was scored, I was in pain, I did not know what to do, where to put myself.

On the feeling of sitting on the bench after being brought off by Didier Deschamps…

I was in tears. Without being impressive throughout the tournament, Portugal remained solid, and were successful, in contrast to us. I will for a long time think about my shot at Rui Patricio. On that night, he was on fire. Hats off to him. It will stick in my throat for a while. This title was at arms-length. We really wanted to write our own history.

On his EURO 2016 performance…

I would give myself a 10/10. I do not feel that I was better than the others, but in the sense that I gave everything I had, I am going to give myself that mark.

On the atmosphere in the dressing room after the defeat…

In the dressing room, there was total silence. Nobody wanted to speak. It went on for between 5 to 10 minutes. We were all hurt, there was a lot of pain. The majority of players were in tears. The coach then spoke, he congratulated us and told us that football was like that, and that we had to accept it. He was proud of our journey, proud of what we had built.

On the night of the defeat…

It was difficult. I could not shut my eyes. I kept replaying moments in my head on a loop throughout the night. I did not want to do anything, talk to anyone, I did not know what could get my morale back up.

On how he prepared during the day before the final…

We had a little muscular wake-up session at about 11, a video session, then the meal. There were some little tweaks to my knee, in which I felt a little niggle. Next, I was relaxing in my room, I was chatting with Bacary Sagna. I was on the phone to my loved ones, I was sending messages to my friends. But the afternoon was very long. I couldn’t wait to lift the trophy…

On who he is closest to in the France squad…

Blaise (Matuidi) and Paul (Pogba). It happened naturally. We did not force things. The kindness of Blaise, the joie de vivre of Paul, his fun nature, his crazy side: I love all of that. I have never had a criticism to make of him (Paul). We have discussed at times and talked about my past, what could be better of him. Whether that is in football or in life. And it is not because I am older that he has nothing to teach me. On the contrary.

On why he believes that so many people have doubted him…

They maybe do not know me. If you look at the players in the national team, every single one finished in the top five in a league, they have played in the Champions League or Europa League, and me, with Newcastle, I was not playing in Europe and we went down to the second division.

I understand why people might doubt me. We have a coach who understands football, if he calls me up, it is because I have certain qualities to go up against the greatest.

On if he wants to be acknowledged…

It is not a must, even if it would be nice. If I feel loved, I am not necessarily going to feel more beautiful, stronger or better in my skin. It will never change me. The most important thing is my family, my friends, my former coaches who know who I am, what I do and what I can do. The outside world affects me less.

On whether it is difficult that his son Kaïs lives in Paris…

He is a mini-me. He gives me extra motivation. I tell myself that I have to succeed, to be the best example. He does not live with me on a daily basis, that is not easy. What is important is that he is healthy, and that he is growing up well. I want him to be proud of me. After the final, he congratulated me, even if he does not really realise the magnitude of everything that is going on.

On if he believes he is better known in England than in France…

Certainly. But that does not upset me and it does not surprise me. It is in the Premier League that I really blew up. In England, it is a fight at first. I am better known here. But you cannot say that I am not loved in France.

On if he is happy with the 10-year long career he has had so far…

If my career was to stop today, I would be very happy with what has happened for me. I tell myself that my path has been quite crazy. I absolutely wanted to become a professional footballer. Today I am one. I did not come from an easy place. When I was young, it was not easy for my parents. My dad was a mason, my mum worked in the building. They put me in the frame of mind that the world was not easy for everyone and that you had to fight.

On whether his friends from the place where he grew up in Paris keep him grounded…

Yes, they are carriers, they work at the airport… I tell myself that I am lucky to do the job that I do today. When I see people in difficulty or suffering, it allows me to keep my feet on the ground. The majority of them would have loved to be professional (footballers). So I think that they are able to live their dreams vicariously through me.



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