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France in a positive state of mind: Valbuena

MUMBAI: After their 3-0 win over Honduras, French midfielder Mathieu Valbuena is in a positive frame of mind. At one time it seemed as if he might not play for his country for long but he fought his way back into contention.

Talking to Fifa.com he said, “It went very well. You get days like that, when you realise that everything’s going to go your way, that every pass could lead to an opportunity. But it was the team performance that made me feel at ease,” he added quickly, pre-empting a question related to the difference between his club and international form.

The truth is that Valbuena did not experience a season to remember in Marseille colours, failing to lift a trophy and putting in several disappointing displays. “There were quite a few matches where I didn’t play all that well, and it’s understandable that the fans weren’t happy. That’s why, when I play well everyone notices the difference,” he said.

“But it’s not that I was putting in less effort. It’s all to do with the context, the players you have around you, and the team dynamic. Here, we’ve continued the good run we’ve been on over the past few months, and there’s a positive feeling running through the camp.

“I’m trying to bring myself up to their level. At Marseille, the opposite was true. The team doubted itself a bit, and it made sense that I wasn’t able to express myself in the same way.”

A lynchpin for L’OM for several seasons, Valbuena was instrumental in the French heavyweights’ championship-winning campaign of 2010. Despite initially being omitted from the side by Didier Deschamps, then coach of Marseille, Valbuena bided his time, worked hard and persevered, without ever complaining.

Now in charge of France, Deschamps was left with no choice but to bring him back into the fold and provide Valbuena with a massive confidence boost. He proceeded to stick by the skilful midfield man, even when he suffered from a considerable dip in form.

“That trust that he placed in me, that I managed to earn, shows me that when you do things well you get your just rewards. I know I’ve got important responsibilities within the team now, and that my team-mates trust me. That changes everything. Tough times are a part of life. I probably wouldn’t be where I am today if everything had been easy” he added.

Adversity it would seem is a friend. “The situation has to be really desperate for me to give up,” he said, clearly proud to have overcome these obstacles. “It shows my perseverance and my consistency over quite a few years.”

Parallels can be drawn with his international career, four years after France’s ill-fated venture in South Africa. “I took part in that World Cup, which was something I’d dreamed of, but I didn’t do myself justice,” he admitted, referring to his solitary appearance against Mexico.

“I didn’t think I’d ever get another chance to play in a World Cup. But I’ve always put in 100 per cent just in case an opportunity arose. And I’m very happy that it did,” he concluded.

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