Kondogbia: “Knowing that the coaching staff trusted me was my fuel”

Chen he wasn’t playing, he didn’t raise his voice and kept working. Simeone himself gave him an example of what a footballer had to do. Now that he has started the course as one of Atlético’s most important players, he is not going to change. Tranquility and humility. That’s how it is Geoffrey kondogbia, a hard-working and committed type with his people.

Lens, Sevilla, Monaco, Inter, Valencia … and now Atlético. It cannot be said that it is not a good career in the elite.
The truth is that until today I am happy with what I have done. You can always do more, you can always do more. It’s what I’m trying to do. First comply and then do good things.
He arrived in Spain at the age of 19 and after a great season with Sevilla, he returned to France to play for Monaco while still very young. Falcao, Toulalan, James Rodríguez, Moutinho, Berbatov … What did that Monaco lack?
We had a very good team. As you said with very good players. It is true that we were not as powerful as PSG but we competed against them. Monaco have always competed against them, even as champions … We have competed very well in the Champions League with young players. It was a very good experience and now I use it to grow.
And years later, fate wants him to meet Carrasco again. How important has the Belgian been in his adaptation to Atlético?
He always helped me from day one, he tried to help me both on the field and off. I found very good companions, I knew Yannick but the others approached from the beginning to help me. The adaptation was very easy, we have very good people off the field.
Lemar, Lecomte, Yannick, Griezmann … They have made a good group
We are always together. But with the rest of the squad as well. Off the field we see each other, outside of training we get together the whole squad. That means we have a good atmosphere

The locker room atmosphere is one of the best I’ve been in. Everything that the club represents is transmitted to the players and it is something that helps you a lot when you arrive new

Geoffrey kondogbia

Is it the best environment you have ever found?
One of the best without a doubt. I have always had teams with a good atmosphere, but here I believe that because of everything the club represents is transmitted to the players and it is something that helps you a lot when you arrive again.
Continuing with his career, after Monaco, he made the leap to Italy to play for Inter. What is in Milan?
It was an Inter under construction. Many years without going to the Champions League and many changes. The first year we finished fourth but the fourth did not enter the Champions League. The second year there were many coach changes and the arrival of the new owner. Since then he began to improve little by little.
From there to Valencia, he meets Marcelino. Perhaps one of Kondogbia’s best moments as a footballer?
Yes, one of the best. Everything started well from the beginning. I found a coach with a word of mouth. From the first day I spoke with him, he told me that he loved me and that I would be important in his team. He conveyed confidence to the players. It was a very nice project for me, I arrived at a good time. It was a perfect thing. I have lived there for three very good years.
Are El Cholo and Marcelino alike in anything?
Yes, we can say that they are similar in terms of humility, wanting to improve, work … But each with their own things.

Kondogbia: “Knowing that the coaching staff trusted me was my fuel”
What has changed from that Kondogbia that came to Spain to that of now?
Many things. I was a child. I was 19 years old, it was my first experience outside of France. I was less mature in my game and off the field. I have changed a lot both on and off the field.
And after the situation that is being created in Valencia with the departure of the coach … Atlético appears. What does one think at that moment?
That calls me a great club. A club that always fights for high positions. The player always wants to do things better. It was an opportunity. A club that represented me for its way of understanding life, for what it transmits in the game. It was perfect for me.
Did you feel like you were coming to a team that could be a champion?
We always play to be the best, it is the path we have to follow. Before arriving here, I was already watching the next game. When I found out that Atleti loved me … The first thing I look at is when can I start training, what is the first game that I play. My feeling was to know what I was going to find.
And what is found? The first year is usually difficult at Atlético …
I knew it from its history. You have to adapt to a new work system. There were very good players and I knew I could help the team. With calm and humility, it is the way for me and for any player.

He knew he could help. With tranquility and humility, it is the way for me and for any player

Geoffrey kondogbia

He had to experience the change in the team’s style from within. How did they adapt to the three centrals?
Well, when a system is changed and the coaching staff explains it to you with references, with images to see it and transmits that this can help you, it is even easier. That helped us a lot. With the new system we can attack with many people and by defending ourselves to be protected. As I always say, any system depends on how you plan it in the field. The coach helped us a lot.
Any preference?
The most important thing is how you develop it. Soccer is soccer. You can play 3-5-2, 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 … But the key is how you cheer it up. You can start 3-5-2 but as you move you can transform it into four and then change. What’s more, the animation you give to the system. Cholo handles system changes well and helped us a lot to dominate the games.
As the months progressed, the team was aiming for champion. How did you experience that in the dressing room? Were there any nerves at some point in the season?
Problems always affect you. When you don’t win or you don’t have the results you expected … But we knew that the championship was very long and that the team that wins LaLiga is the most constant team. The most regular. All teams were going to have a difficult time. We had to endure at that time, we knew we were going to have it. You had to put up with a cool head.
Despite not having many minutes, last season at key moments, the best Kondogbia appeared
The player always wants to play, you want to have as many minutes as possible. I have always tried to give what I could to the team. What helped me a lot was the confidence of the coaching staff. I felt despite not playing many minutes that the coaching staff and my teammates had confidence in me. Knowing that they needed me and trusted me was my fuel to try to play and give the level, even if I did not have the expected minutes.

When a system is changed and the technical body explains it to you with references, with images to see it and transmits that this can help you, it is even easier

Geoffrey kondogbia

This year you could start from the beginning with the team, does that give you an advantage with others?
A player when he has a good preseason is easier. In my case, even more so. I know myself and I know that when I am physically better, I can perform better on the field. It helped me to be fresh and well to help the team.
Do you feel more important now?
I always felt important. When I didn’t have minutes, my fuel was feeling that my teammates needed me. Although I did not have the desired minutes, I could tell that they trusted me. Now that I play more, I don’t notice the change. I have always noticed that confidence since I arrived.
Is Lemar’s change surprising?
It is a change for the people. For those of us who know him from Caen or Monaco … When you train with him you see that he has something different. He is a player who can do everything today. Break, with the ball it gives you a performance, it also defends … It may be a surprise for people, but for us as teammates it is not a surprise.
Simeone said it in many press conferences, that it was very good.
When you meet the player you know that he has always been good. There are times when it can turn out better or worse, but trust also plays a role. It is something very important in football. He is a different player who gives you special things.
Speaking of confidence, do you notice the return of the soccer fan?
Yes, yes … The other day against Barcelona I could live it from the stands and it is a wonderful experience. It was a long time without them. Unfortunately last year we could not have such a good season with them. Now that they are back in the stadium, we are going to try to do everything possible so that they feel represented with their Atlético.

Kondogbia, a committed footballer
What has Griezmann’s return meant for the team?
We are very happy. He is a player who is a star. When a player of this level arrives, the teammate is always happy. And on top of that, he is a person who always brings joy. Is positive. It is an important thing for the team on and off the field. He always arrives with a good atmosphere, with a smile … He is a very positive guy. It’s a very good thing for us.
To finish, in 2018 he made the decision to play for the Central African Republic, the birthplace of your parents. What did that step mean to you?
In many years I had not been able to go for football. I went with 2-3 years and did not return until 20. At that moment everything changed. What I saw, what it could represent … It is true that when you play there, you will not have the same prestige for the public as in France. But it was something very important to me, what I can do and what I can represent for that team and that country could never do it for France. I’ve always said it, I feel French and I feel Central African. Both countries are part of my life, but what I can do for them is much greater. People always remember you when you try to help.
He has always been a fairly active footballer in the fight against injustices …
If you live something that is repeated many times, you are the one who has to change something. It is good to say that something is wrong, that this or that is happening … but if you do not take action … I am not sorry. Something happened, it is impossible to eradicate. What are we going to do? Regret year after year? No, you have to take action. If you are in a place where you are not respected as a person, you do not have to be in that place. Regretting will not change. We have seen racism in stadiums and enough is lamenting. If as a person you are not respected, you have to take action and leave that place.

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