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Matz Sels Discusses His Transfer to the Premier League and His Euro Hopes

Matz, your transfer was completed in less than 24 hours…

“Yes. Everything was done at the last minute. On Wednesday evening (January 31), I heard there was some interest. I went to bed telling my wife that I was going to sleep peacefully. For me, there was nothing. Finally, on Thursday morning, the day before the match against Paris, there was this concrete proposal. I didn’t have much time to think and decide.”

And Strasbourg agreed to sell you for 10 million euros, including two bonuses, while you still had two and a half years of contract…

“Apparently, during the night from Wednesday to Thursday, Chelsea and BlueCo (which also owns Strasbourg) spoke with Nottingham. By Thursday, almost everything was settled between the clubs. It was a sign that maybe it was better to leave: if the club doesn’t want you to leave, they’re not going to do a last-minute deal.”

Matz Sels returned to the Premier League seven years after leaving Newcastle. ©PA Wire/PA Images

At almost 32 years old, given the particular market for goalkeepers, did you expect to return to the Premier League?

“I think I have always performed well in Strasbourg. You always have this hope in the end, this objective of playing higher, in a better championship. I was happy in Strasbourg, that’s clear. But the Premier League is the best league in the world and you don’t have to think too long.”

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I wanted to do the Euro and then maybe look for another challenge.

You mentioned your wife: how did she react when you told her you were leaving?

(Laughs) “I didn’t tell him like that. We didn’t have much time to talk. I have a family, a child. It’s not all about me. But maybe this is the last challenge for me. She agreed. That’s the life of a footballer.”

In Strasbourg, the player that you are was voted best goalkeeper in the championship, was captain, was seriously injured to come back stronger by playing in the mainland then in Europe. And the man saw his son born. You have experienced everything there…

“That sums it up well. I experienced everything in Strasbourg, I saw the club grow. I only have good memories, friends for life. It was a magnificent time. Finding the same thing elsewhere will be difficult. Five and a half years in football is a long time. Leaving in January was not planned. I wanted to do the Euro and then maybe look for another challenge. I’m glad I left through the front door: when you stay too long, it can sometimes end badly. That was my fear. Three days after I signed, I sent messages and I was really, really emotional. I hope I can come back and say goodbye to the supporters. I can’t say a single bad thing about Strasbourg.”

Before Strasbourg – Paris SG, Matz Sels takes stock of his season: “I don’t want to play the game every year”

You arrived at a club that Orel Mangala left.

“Yes, we talked a little. I wanted to take his house. We talked more about practical things.”

Each transfer carries its share of danger, especially as the Euro arrives. Did you have any guarantees?

“There is never a guarantee of ownership. He was looking for a goalkeeper and I took that risk. But it’s not just the Euro, there’s what’s next that I must also have in mind for my career. For me, this is a step forward. I don’t think I’m going to be number 1 at the Euro, we’ve seen that in the last few matches. I try to be ready when someone calls on me. Afterwards, if I play in the Premier League, it could go the other way, you never know…”

Matz Sels celebrated his sixth selection against Serbia last November (Photo by Nico Vereecken / Photo News). ©NVE

Precisely, with this transfer, do you have a better chance of being a starter for the Devils?

“I don’t know. The coach made me play during the November friendly: it’s clear that he (Casteels) is going to be number 1. The coach is not going to change much at the last minute. I try to take my chance when it’s given to me.”

What will a successful Euro be for the Devils?

“It’s hard to say. The team is good, the Euro is never easy. Everything can be decided in one match after the group stage. Of course we want to win, but it’s hard to say we’re going to win. We have to be realistic, maybe we can grow in the tournament, we have a good team with good players.”

The Red Devil Matz Sels confides in his role as guardian: “My pleasure? Dive into the mud! ”
2024-02-16 08:15:00
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