First Team 20/02/2020

Big Interview: Abdoulaye Doucouré

In-form midfielder discusses being inspired by Patrick Vieira, Muhammad Ali and World Cup ’98, in his self-written interview, originally published in the matchday programme.


LES BLEUS

When I was five years old in 1998 the World Cup came to France and even though I was so young, it turned out to be something that really inspired me. The World Cup final, when we beat Brazil, is the first game I can remember watching on TV as a child and all my family were there. I can still remember the people outside in the city celebrating the victory and all the celebrations on the Champs-Élysées. All the French people were so happy and the team’s performance inspired a lot of people because we had a bright future ahead. From then on, I always watched football and I had a lot of posters in my bedroom, so it had a big impact on me.

‘PERFECT’ PATRICK

Everyone remembers the France team that had so much success in World Cup 1998 and Euro 2000. We had amazing players like Zidane, Deschamps and Henry, but my favourite of them all was Patrick Vieira. He’s my favourite ever midfielder. I looked up to him because while I was growing up, I watched him playing for the national team and Arsenal and he was a great example for me to follow. I enjoyed watching his skills and trying to repeat them. He could do everything; he was the perfect midfielder. I think now a lot of midfielders can get forward and score goals but also defend well, but back then it wasn’t like that and he was one of the first. That’s why he’s so important and one of the best. As a player I want to have the presence and influence on games like he had. I want to become one of the best midfielders, and there is nobody better than him to follow.

THE GREATEST

Vieira is my favourite midfielder and the Brazilian Ronaldo is my favourite non-midfielder, but outside of football the person who inspires me the most is Muhammad Ali. I’ve read a lot about him and he was one of the greatest sportsmen in the world. I’ve learned a lot of things from him as well. He was a good guy with his work for humanity; he spoke about a lot of things that are important in life so that’s why I admire him so much. I saw the movie with Will Smith and it was one of the best films I’ve seen. It was so close to reality, so close to how he was in real life and how he came across in the interviews you can watch back.

MIDDLE MEN

I really enjoy playing alongside Étienne in midfield. At the beginning of my time at Watford it was more of a competition between the two of us because I wanted to get a place in the team, but we’ve been playing together for two or three years now and we spend a lot of time together too. We have different qualities because we are different midfielders – he can do some things I can’t, and I can do the same for him – and we learn all the time from each other. He has a lot of experience playing in England as well as back in France, so it’s impossible not to learn from him. It’s nice we also have players like Nathaniel [Chalobah] and Will [Hughes] coming in and playing well and we have a good relationship between all the midfielders, which is good for competition.


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Under-18's 19/02/2020

Under-18: Cardiff City 2-2 Watford

Dom Hutchinson showed maturity and leadership against Cardiff City according to Assistant Coach Tom Hart, taking his season's tally to 15 with two goals in Saturday’s 2-2 draw.

Hutchinson’s double strike, the first after 15 minutes and the second ten minutes after the break, looked like it would be enough to earn the Under-18s three points on Saturday, as the team controlled the majority of the match. However, the visitors never found a third goal and Cardiff salvaged a draw thanks to two goals in the final 15 minutes.

“Knowing Dom he’ll be really disappointed he didn’t get his hat-trick,” said Hart. “Dom is a big character in the Under-18s changing room. He’s really respected by his peers and this season he’s really started to show a maturity in taking information on from the coaching staff and buying into our methods and our game plans.

“He’s been a good captain for the team this season: he's been a bridge between the players and the coaches, and obviously his goals are there to see.”

The result means the Hornets have only lost one of the last eight, but Hart felt the performance warranted a 12th win in 18 games.

“For 75 minutes it was probably the perfect away performance,” he said. “We scored after 15 minutes with a pattern of play that we’d worked on, and we had other chances to go two or three ahead before half-time. We came out in the second half and it was really pleasing as a coach again to see a routine we’d worked on pay off with winning the penalty. We limited them to shots from distance and we had a really good shape, we limited the space and we looked dangerous on the break.”

The point means Watford remain well in the title race, just three points behind leaders Millwall in the Under-18 Professional Development League and three clear of third-place Bristol City having played two games less. The top two go into the National Playoffs. 

“We’re just gutted for the boys after all the preparation and hard work they put into it, but it’s massive lessons learned because we were in a position where we should have seen the game out,” said Hart. “We feel like it’s two points lost, but it’s a point gained on the road and it makes us three points off Millwall at the top of the league now, so it’s all to play for.”


HORNETS: Roberts (GK), Andrews, Maclean, Burchell, Lawal, Janjeva, McKiernan, Horsewood (Forde 88), Muwonge (Sankoh 53), Lo-Everton.

Subs not used: White (GK), Hall.