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Interview 21 October 2020, 16:18

Harisson Marcelin: "It's a league that will strengthen me"

Harisson Marcelin: "It's a league that will strengthen me"
Loaned this season to Cercle Bruges, the central defender took the time to speak about his start to the season in Belgium, a few days after his first goal with the Green and Black.

He was loaned on September 11 to Cercle Brugge to gain playing time this season, eight months after joining AS Monaco. Originally from Reunion Island and having come through the academy at AJ Auxerre, Harisson Marcelin is now flourishing as a starter in central defense in the Belgian league.

He scored his first goal against Gent

Now having started four games in the for  Paul Clement, the former assistant to Carlo Ancelotti, and having had pre-season training with Niko Kovac’s group, he even scored his first goal for the club this weekend. On the occasion of the reception of Gent, Harisson added the final goal in a 5-2 win for the Green and Black.  Recently, he took a moment to take stock of his start to the season, and his adaptation to a new league and city.

Harisson, how did participating in preseason with Niko Kovac and the first team help you in terms of your loan to Cercle Brugge?

It was good, I learned a lot with the coach and all the players during preseason and in playing the friendly matches. And I think that was a plus for me when I arrived here in Bruges. I was have also been very well received here at Cercle, I get on well with everyone and with the coach, Paul Clement, so I’m happy, we’re moving forward.

How do you judge your start to the season with Cercle Bruges?

So far everything is going well, there have been good results so that’s good. Then individually I have played good matches (4 starts, 3 wins, 1 goal), and I like it here in Belgium. I have a few more contacts, including a friend of mine who played for Auxerre as well and who told me good things about the league so I came without hesitation. All in all, it’s an encouraging start to the season. Even the city is calm and, and although the weather is not very nice I feel good here.

Anthony Musaba and Giulian Biancone are also with you at Cercle, it must be easier for you to make this change suddenly …

Yes of course. Anthony speaks French as well, so it’s true that we speak a lot, we get along really well. Then there are a lot of French players at the club and in the league. But otherwise we adapt, I also try to speak English with the others. Regarding Giulian, who has already had a season here, when he arrived I was already well integrated but it is true that it is good because he knows everyone in Bruges. And I also know him because we did preseason together with AS Monaco. So I think it went even faster in terms of adaptation to be with him.

In view of the good results of the club, have you set goals this season with the coach and the players?

I wasn’t there at the very start of the season so I’m not sure what has been said and if the club is aiming for anything other than staying in the division. Every weekend we take each match with the intention of winning and then we will see what can be done. Honestly among the players we do not say anything, except that we want to rack up the points as quickly as possible, because last season they had a difficult campaign. So we do not ask questions, we play, we win, we take the points and have fun in doing so.

How did you experience the derby against Club Bruges, a match you narrowly lost?

It was a great match even if we lost in the end. You have to know that this is a club that is playing in the Champions League as well. Unfortunately with the health crisis, we didn’t have our supporters, so when the crowd started screaming the referee tended to let himself be swayed. Suddenly there is a penalty that we didn’t agree with and we conceded a second goal. But it was a good match. We could have been a little more technically proficient, but we were very good in the end.

 

Yes it's true, it's my first goal with Cercle. I had already scored in my first game, but the goal was disallowed because I had used my hand a little in the build-up. But yeah I was happy, especially as there were people in the stands, so that was good. It is a pleasure for me and for my family. Using my head is really an aspect of my game that I want to improve, because I am tall (he is 1.97m), so I might as well enjoy it.
Harisson Marcelin

Tell us about your first goal with Les Vert et Noir this weekend against Gent…

Yes it’s true, it was my first goal for Cercle. I had already scored in my first game, but the goal was disallowed because I had used my hand a little in the build-up. But yeah I was happy, especially as there were people in the stands, so that was good. It is a pleasure for me and for my family. Using my head is really an aspect of my game that I want to improve, because I am tall (he is 1.97m), so I might as well enjoy it.This is what I have to work on, I have to focus more, improve my attacking headers. My goal is to score between five and seven goals this season with Cercle Brugge.

How would you describe the Belgian league, which is relatively unknown in France?

They defend, they attacks, it’s a little helter-skelter. Frankly it’s tough, there are a lot of sprints, a lot of intensity to the style of play. But is also space, a lot of dribbling and a lot of runs. It’s good, it’s a league that will strengthen me, allow me to progress and then return to AS Monaco. Because here they don’t have worry as much about defending, they want to score goals all the time, so we also need to be strong at the back when we get get pegged back. In fact it is very similar to Germany in style, always going all out, a box-to-box type of game.

How are you experiencing the fact that coach Paul Clement (former deputy to Carlo Ancelotti, editor’s note) trusts you and installs you as a starter since your arrival?

I am already 20 years old, but it is true that it shows confidence. After that I do whatever it takes in training to be in the eleven every weekend. Then either he trusts me and I’m in the team, or I’m a substitute because I’m injured or even tired and at that point I accept his decisions. Either way I came here to have some playng time, so I’m doing everything to do so. I try to have fun, and since we have a good relationship with the coach, we talk to each other a lot, everything is going well. It is important for me to have good contact with the coach.

 

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I think my first match was against Châteauroux in the Coupe de la Ligue, and I scored (August 28, 2018). After that I played two big games against Metz and Brest, the two teams that moved up to Ligue 1 at the end of the season. By then I was ready, I was physically in shape - I was just lacking experience. Then the following season it was even better when I had Jean-Marc Furlan as my coach.
Harisson Marcelin

Tell us a little bit about your beginnings in football. You started on Reunion Island, where you were born, is that right?

Yes it’s true, I started soccer when I was five years old on Réunion, in Port, the city where I was born Then I went to Jeanne d’Arc at the age of 7-8 until I was 15. Then I went to mainland France, to Auxerre where I trained for three years, before signing a professional contract in my fourth year. This is where I really gained some playing time with the first team in Ligue 2 (24 matches in all competitions).

Was the transition from Reunion to Burgundy difficult for you?

I would say that the first year especially was difficult. When I arrived in Auxerre I had never experienced winter. Then I had a friend from Reunion with whom I had played who arrived at the same time as me, so we helped each other a lot. But in hindsight, yes it was really this first year that was tough. Then you start to get used to it and then you know you’re going home at the end of the year for the holidays and the summer, so that comforted me a bit. Because my mom has only been able to make the trip two or three times.

How did you progress in the Auxerre youth teams?

The first year I played in Honneur and I finished the season with the U17s. The second year I was only with the U17s and even moved up to play with the U19s. It was around this time that I started to be called up for the French youth teams. At the time I had a coach who trusted me a lot. After I was 18 I was with the reserves, and I signed my first professional contract thereafter.

And your discovery of the professional world in Ligue 2?

I think my first match was against Châteauroux in the Coupe de la Ligue, and I scored (August 28, 2018). After that I played two big games against Metz and Brest, the two teams that moved up to Ligue 1 at the end of the season. By then I was ready, I was physically in shape – I was just lacking experience. Then the following season it was even better when I had Jean-Marc Furlan as my coach. He had a lot of confidence in me and I was coming out of Euro U19 with the France team (the Bleuets lost in the semi-finals, note) so I was fine. It gave me a good start to the season, although the results weren’t necessarily there for the team. But personally I felt good.

 

There are a lot of great players who have come through this club including some who are there now. What's interesting is that they also have a good academy, they are famous for that. They trust young people, but you also have to give yourself the means to succeed. Today I am 20 years old, and I haven't achieved anything in football yet. So for success you have to work, everything comes as a result of work.
Harisson Marcelin

Was Jean-Marc Furlan important in your learning and in your progress?

Yes of course, because he trusted me a lot. He was there for me too, explaining things to me a lot. He really got me started. Even when sometimes when I made small mistakes, he continued to trust me and start me. He left me on the pitch, he allowed me to play, to keep improving and to keep up the pace.

You were telling us about Euro U19 with the France team. Are you proud to represent your country?

Yes of course. I come from far away, from Reunion, and there are a lot of players in France, so it’s all the more a source of pride when I’m selected with Les Bleuets. I don’t think about it too much on a daily basis, but if I am called upon I will be there. Otherwise I will continue to work to be successful.

Can we imagine that it was a source of pride for you to sign for AS Monaco?

There are a lot of great players who have come through this club including some who are there now. What’s interesting is that they also have a good academy, they are famous for that. They have confidence in their young players, but you also have to give yourself the means to succeed. Today I am 20 years old, and I haven’t achieved anything in football yet. So for success you have to work, everything comes as a result of work.

You have seen that Niko Kovac trusts his young players at the start of this season. Does this give you even more hope for next season?

I hope so. Anyway, I have seen that there are a lot of young players playing at the start of the league season, so that’s good, I’m happy for them. I obviously hope that will be the case for me too.

 

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