Aliou Cissé: 'I learned a lot at Paris'
Former Paris Saint-Germain full-back (62 matches, two goals, between 1998 and 2001) and current Senegal national team coach Aliou Cissé spoke to PSG TV about his time in the French capital, as well as coaching current star and compatriot Idrissa Gueye:
Aliou, what memories do you have of your time at Paris Saint-Germain?
"I have a lot of them! I played at the club for three years and I learnt a lot during that time. I joined a big team from Sedan, a club that had just moved up to D2 (ex-Ligue 2). I grew up in the Paris region. As a child, I used to go to the Parc des Princes to see Safet Susic, Valdo... all these great players. My dream was to play for Paris Saint-Germain. A lot of young people from the suburbs dream of joining the youth academy, but I didn't have the opportunity. I trained in Lille before joining the club in 1998. I've played alongside great players like Jay-Jay Okocha and Ronaldinho. I learnt a lot because I was a young player, and I had the chance to play a few games at a big club. So I'm very happy to have worn this jersey, and to have pleased our fans at the time. I only have great memories!”
Have you kept in touch with former teammates?
"Being based in Senegal, I don't have much contact with them anymore. But I go to the Parc des Princes from time to time. Last year, I came to watch the match between Paris Saint-Germain and Saint-Etienne (4-0, 14/09/2018) because I had a player who played for Les Verts (Assane Dioussé). I was very well received! I met up with other former players like Edvin Murati (academy graduate, 24 matches, 1 goal between 1997 and 2000), who I hadn't seen in a very long time. We laughed a lot together. I'll be back!”
A strong bond seems to unite Paris Saint-Germain and Senegal...
"The Senegalese and Paris Saint-Germain, it's a long love story! Sarr Boubacar, who was a player (98 matches, 27 goals between 1979 and 1983) and then a member of the staff, Jules Bocandé (41 matches, 6 goals in the 1986-1987 season) and Oumar Dieng (52 official matches, 1 goal between 1994 and 1996) have played for the club. And currently there is Idrissa Gueye. In short, there has always been a link between Senegal and Paris Saint-Germain.”
Is the club well-supported in Senegal?
"Today, all Senegalese people follow and encourage Paris Saint-Germain. The fact that Idrissa plays there is a source of pride for all of us. We love football. Senegal is a sporting country, people live football, and Paris Saint-Germain is one of the leading clubs here. There is also a large Senegalese community in Paris, which follows the club and has a representative in the person of Gana Gueye. As a result, everyone supports Paris Saint-Germain. So we are happy that he represents Senegal. He is our country's ambassador to Europe. We really wish him a great career. He has the potential, the qualities. He is an exceptional boy in terms of his mentality. The only thing I regret is that he is a little late in getting to this level. But the fact that he reached this level was only right. So I hope that he will continue to progress, that he will bring a lot of happiness to Paris Saint-Germain, and that he will enjoy himself.”
What do you think of the player?
"He's very consistent, someone who's part of the national team's management team. The current team is based around him and 3 or 4 other players. He's an exceptional boy, with an intelligence that's really above average. He's easy to train. It's a pleasure for us to be with him. He brings a lot to the national team through his commitment, but also through his footballing qualities. He's a very well-educated boy, apart from being a great player, and that's very important. He's got room for improvement and I know he'll make even more progress in Paris.”