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INTERVIEW: PSG’s Abdallah Yaisien dreaming of Egypt call-up
Over the years, the Egyptian National Team has always been composed of an almost entirely domestic-based squad; of course, for lack of other options. Despite all the continental silverware in recent years (three straight African Cup of Nations titles from 2006 to 2010), up until this year, it’s been almost impossible to name a handful of Egyptians in European leagues; let alone among the elite clubs. Last year, Mohamed Zidan was the only Egyptian international in the UEFA Champions League, where he played a combined 8 minutes (against Arsenal) before Borussia Dortmund made an early exit in the competition. The only other player of Egyptian origins in last year’s competition was AC Milan’s Stephen ‘il Faraone’ El-Shaarawy, who’s currently their standout player this season, but disappointingly for us, is now an Italy international.
To help potentially avoid any future Shaarawy-like scenarios, Egypt-eligible talent must be scouted and contacted while they’re ripe. These Young Pharaohs need to be aware that Egypt is interested, early, as some may be eventually tempted by other national sides.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Egyptian-Algerian Abdallah Yaisien made his mark on the international scene when he shined with his native France at the FIFA U-17 2011 World Cup in Mexico. Hailing from the suburbs of Paris, the 18-year-old talented playmaker was in a class of his own in Mexico. His composure on the ball, impressive vision, mazy dribbles, and of course, his exquisite assists against Argentina and Jamaica and sublime goal of his own against Japan helped lead his team to the quarter-finals before the French were knocked out by hosts and eventual winners, Mexico. Almost everything about Yaisien is unique. He’s one of the game’s young artists and has a fascinating heritage with Egyptian and Algerian roots, given the intense footballing rivalry between the two nations. Yaisien has already been scouted by top clubs across Europe after scoring 7 and assisting 8 goals in 11 games for the French.
“He’s got raw talent,” explained the France U-17 coach Patrick Gonfalone. “Physically he’s not the strongest, but when he’s got the ball something happens. He’s capable of unlocking a defence all on his own.”
King Fut exclusively caught up with the PSG and France rising star to discuss his club and international ambitions…
Life with PSG
You began your career with Clichy-La-Garenne before signing for Paris Saint-Germain. Is PSG where you always wanted to be?
Yes, I played in Clichy’s youth team until I was 14-years-old. I was spotted by the PSG scouts to join their pre-training center. PSG is really a big club in France. It’s great pride for me to integrate into this club. When you support this team as a child, it’s a dream come true to be able to play with this shirt.
Where do you now stand with PSG? Any news on when you’re expected to make your senior debut? Do you think PSG’s new project with the Qatari investors may limit your 1st team opportunities?
Since the beginning of this season I’ve been playing with the reserve team of PSG. Sometimes I play with the U-19s for big games or when the coach needs me.
Regarding my first game with the first team you must ask this question to the coach [laughs. I try to work hard during the training to make good games every weekend. I did some training with the first team already. But it is true that there are many very good players at the club now. My time will come when the coach decides that I am ready. But for the moment, I don’t think too much. I just try to be the best possible with the reserve team.
I’m out of contract this year. So at the moment I don’t ask too many questions about my future at the club. My agent is currently working with several clubs. I don’t think even to Paris next season. But in football anything can go very fast so I don’t know yet.
You have an outstanding goal and assist tally with the France U-17 National Team, has there already been talk of you representing France at a higher level ?
It’s true that I did a lot of match with France youth teams where I scored a lot of goals. But for now I only have 18 years and the issue doesn’t arise again for me. How speak I speak about the France team A while I don’t play with my club yet.
(Wearing the France #10 jersey with North African roots, it was almost inevitable that a flood of Zinedine Zidane comparisons would follow, and they did. Yaisien has a playful, cheeky manner that instantly sets him apart, and more importantly he is simply too young to merit the association – a point he is the first to make.)
Your performances with the youth team have already drawn comparisons with Zinedine Zidane, what do you make of these comparisons?
These are the journalists who make these comparisons with Zidane and not me. I’ve a lot of work yet to be done before I can think of one day ever being compared to Zidane when I play. Before me, how many other players in France have been compare with him? And today, what French player can claim to have made only one quarter of what he did? Of course, the comparison is flattering but I’m still far from this status. I’m only Abdallah Yaisien and not Zidane or anyone else.
We are aware you are of Egyptian and Algerian roots, which parent does the Egyptian side com from?
Yes, I’m French but my mother comes from Algeria and my father comes from Egypt. I am very close to my family in Egypt and I visit Egypt regularly there as often as I can.
Do you follow Egyptian football and do you have a favorite club in Egypt?
Yes, of course. I’m sad about the latest results of the national team but I hope they will qualify for the next World Cup. My favorite Egyptian team is Al Ahly, of course [laughs].
You are obviously eligible to play for either respected national team, is this something you would consider ? If so, which North African nation would you favor?
Sure, because of my origins, I could play for France, Egypt or Algeria. At the moment, I didn’t ask myself the question again about it. France is the only country that has called to me so far for youth teams. I love Egypt, and yes, it really is a dream for me to play for my father’s country later.
From the Egyptian national team, who is your favorite player and why?
My favorite player in the Egyptian national team is (Mohamed) Abou-Treika. He’s really a great player. He’s so humble, and for me, is an example to follow.
KingFut.com will be providing all the exclusives on Abdallah Yaisien. We would like to thank him for his time and wish him the best of luck during the 2012-2013 Ligue 1 season.