Interview: Abdeslam Ouaddou

Image: Adam Davy/EMPICS via Getty

Fulham Focus’ Daniel Smith caught up with ex-Fulham defender Abdes Ouaddou to reflect on his time at the club. The former Moroccan captain spent 2 years with Fulham experiencing highs and lows from being part of the Intertoto Cup winning match day squad to struggling for a regular first team place with very tough competition for places…

DS You started your career very late, did you almost give up on football and how did you get the opportunity to become a professional?

AO – Hi, I have signed my first professional contract in As Nancy Lorraine at 19 years old and start playing at 20 years. So I think that it is not too late to be honest, and then you have to be patient as a defender. 

What I did during 1 year to get a chance to play.?? In 1999 during a match Nantes vs ASNL Cedric Lecluse the titular defender had been sent off at the 30 th minute, the manager then called me to enter in action, I played 1 jour qui. Well we didn’t concede goals during that hour so the manager Laslo Boloni decided to give a second chance against Marseille.?? The match went quite well so he let me in the team the rest of the season.?? The player who was sent off was the captain and didn’t play the rest of the season and was transferred the next season. 

DS What would you have worked as if you didn’t become a footballer?

AO – Maybe you guys will have a hysterical laugh regarding the nick name given by Fulham fans but my Dream was to become a cruise ship Captain because I do love their beautiful white uniform and I love the Sea. 

DS Was your ambition always to play in the Premier League?

AO – Yes my Dream was to join the Premier League.??I appreciate the atmosphere in the Stadiums and the patience around football in England. 

DS You signed for the club in our first premier league season, what attracted you to Fulham? Was it the location, the premier league, the manager or a number of reasons???

AO – Actually I had many offers from Monaco, Kaiserslautern, Seville and Arsenal but not for the first team.?? I had chosen Fulham because it was a family Club and Tigana game project was very interesting. I liked the game philosophy.

DS You seemed to struggle to settle in England after signing from Nancy, you ended up spending the last 2 years of your contract at Rennes before signing for them on a free. What was different about England and did you feel more at home in France?

AO – To be honest I wanted to stay in London, my wife and I were really pleased but I needed more game time to continue to improve and keep my place at the national team of Morocco , when I was at Fulham (after 2 years ) I didn’t play a lot and when Tigana quit, Chris Coleman told me that he would not be able to get me more time so with him we agreed for me to go on loan to perform more and have more game time and come back to Fulham afterwards. I played around 100 games in 3 years but nobody seemed to be interested for me to come back. I would love too but this is the life.??I was pleased to play for Fulham, I improved a lot even though I was not regular in 1st team. Since then I love this club and I’m still in touch with a lot of people at Fulham. 

DS What language did you speak on a daily basis whilst playing for Fulham? Could you speak English or did your connections with France help because we had so many French-speaking players. J.Collins, Goma, Legwinski, Steed, Marlet, Saha and Tigana to name a few…

AO – The rules imposed by Tigana was to speak only English, if somebody caught speaking another language you would be fined. 

In my case I have always loved England and was interested by the country history,??amazed by the double decker buses. I have visited England 3 times before signing for Fulham and studied English during 10 years at school. 

DS What was Tigana like as a manager?

AO – A perfectionist and rigorous during work and joker outside the pitch. I still have him on my phone and we have all the time thought of Fulham. 

DS You played one season at the Cottage and the second over at Loftus Road whilst the ground was redeveloped. Which ground is better and which did you prefer playing at?

AO – Loftus Road was ok and we thank Queens Park Rangers club for welcoming us there but Craven cottage was special for us because we felt at home and when you play at home you can smell the history of the club and the responsibility you have every games to honour, the shirt and players who played before for the club.

DS You was an unused sub when Fulham won the Intertoto Cup, do you remember the night well?

AO – Of course we were very happy and the fans too. I remember Mr Al Fayad come down and walked with us to thank the fans. 

DS You played 38 games for Fulham, do you have a favourite game?

AO – I enjoyed them all especially the ones I played in my favourite position.?? Central defender

DS You are a regular when the club hosts charity matches at the Cottage. You give me the impression that you’re very proud to be associated with Fulham Football Club?

AO – Like I told you before, football has the Power and magic to make connection. Of course I didn’t play a lot at Fulham but the respect I had there by everybody and the love I have for the club where my Dream became true : (joining the premier league ) and the cause of the event pushed me to come.

DS Who was the best player that you played with at Fulham?

AO – I liked Sean Davis, he had really a big potential, Louis Saha and Edwin Van Der Sar were amazing too.?? In general we had a good players and humanly top lads.

DS Who were your closest friends on the team and who was your roommate when staying in hotels etc?

AO – I was close to Sean Davis and Zat Knight because they are the same age as me but I got on well with everybody. 

DS Do you still keep in touch with any players?

AO – I’m still in touch with John Collins, Barry, Rufus, Eddy Lewis, Chris Coleman, Louis Saha, Kit Symons, Boa Morte etc…. 

DS Have you ever considered becoming a manager?

AO – Yes I have passed a Sport Management Masters during 2 years in Limoges and actually I am coach in Nancy Academy with the U 20. Maybe, why not come back one day to Fulham to work with the young, I would be very pleased to contribute to the development of Fulham youngsters.

DS What do you do now that you’ve retired?

AO – Like I told you I stopped playing since 4 years and it has been 4 years that I am coach in Nancy.?? I started with U 17 during 2 years and now it is my second year with the reserve team.

DS You have 80 caps for Morocco, what’s your proudest moment representing your country???

AO – In 2004 when we reached the final of the African cup. I have 80 caps this is my proudest moment as well to reach 80 caps. 

DS What letter does your surname begin with? I’ve never been confident whether to spell it with a ‘Q’ or an ‘O’???

AO – OUADDOU or if you prefer start with W. 

DS Fulham fans had a nickname for you; they called you ‘Seaside’. Did you know about this?

AO – Oh yes! 

“Oh I do Like to Be Beside the Seaside” is a popular British??song. But never understood why??? Surely because of my name. “Ouaddou like to be Beside the Sea” hahaha!

DS And finally, Abdes it’s our tradition to end with this question……..pie or pasty? Which do you prefer eating and which filling?

AO – Hmm, Let’s say Apple pie.