Eric Djemba-Djemba: “When you work hard, you can make it”
Former Manchester United player Eric Djemba-Djemba has recently opened up about his time as a professional football player. Speaking to Cal Blankendal and Vernon Springer on their Football Insight Podcast, the now-retired midfielder reflected on 15 years as a pro footballer.
Thankful for everything
Djemba-Djemba has been dubbed by Red Devils fans as the player so good “they named him twice”. While he never managed to live up to that hype at Old Trafford, the Cameroonian international is thankful for the opportunity to play at the top level.
“I enjoyed every moment, every second, every day. It was a dream for me to play for Manchester United, because when I was a kid, I loved to watch them on TV.” Djemba-Djemba told VA Sports.
“After three years in Nantes, I joined United and it was a dream.”
The 40-year-old also explained how he achieved his dream and sealed a £3.5 million move from Nantes in France:
“Some scouts came from England to watch me play. After that, I remember [Sir Alex] Ferguson came to watch me play. I think the decision came from him (Sir Alex) to buy me.”
Djemba-Djemba went on to say that Ferguson was like a father figure to the younger players in the Manchester United dressing room.
Mentality is key
Djemba-Djemba was also asked what players nowadays have to do to succeed and how much things have changed in football since he burst onto the scene 20 years ago:
“If you have a strong education, you will learn very fast. Today’s it’s not like 20 years ago, you can play in the Premier League at 16 years old. At that age, it’s very difficult to move to another country, you have to be strong mentally. You have to train hard and have respect for your teammates.”
One pressure associated with modern football and sport is that related to social media. There has been no-end to the abuse that professional sportspeople face on the internet, so what’s Djemba-Djemba’s advice to them?
“It’s easy to deal with that [online abuse]. Like I said before, it depends how they and your parents educate you and it depends where you want to be in life. So, you can have these social medias, but if you don’t know where you want to get to in life, you can’t deal with that.”
“Sometimes you need to be out of social media, because it can get to be too much and you can lose your concentration.”
Eric also said that he had never personally experienced racism while playing football.
Be sure to check Sportlightpro.com for more excepts from this interview!
This interview was in association with Islands Cup Open Football.
If you want to check out the full interview with Eric Djemba-Djemba, we’ve linked the podcast below.