His career took him from Espérance de Tunis to Lorient via Rubin Kazan. Montassar Talbi recounts his journey in the new issue of Onze Mondial, available on newsstands and on our online store. An opportunity to discuss his career but also the upcoming clash between Tunisia and France at the World Cup.
On his debut at Espérance de Tunis
“It was a big test from the start. I started even before taking the bac, I was 17 and I made some appearances on the bench or during internships. I could see the professional world. They wanted to integrate me from the age of 17, but because of my studies it was difficult. They made me a promise. The president had told me that if I obtained my baccalaureate they would immediately integrate me into the professional group. He has kept his promise since a week after his baccalaureate, it happened. It happened little by little, I took my marks for a few months. When I got my chance, it was the big posters, during the play-offs. I started with two Clasicos against Sfax and Etoile du Sahel in one week. Behind it was the derby. In ten days I played the three most important matches in the country, away and in the play-offs. We had no room for error. At 18, playing these matches when you know the fervor and demands of the Espérance fans was enormous pressure and a great test. It was a pride for me as a fan of the club and I was able to learn the requirements of the high level. »
His adventure at Rubin Kazan and the Russia-Ukraine conflict
“At first, we didn’t really feel it. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine provided a way out for foreigners. We could break our contracts. Most of Rubin’s players had their contracts suspended, we were left without foreigners , who make up 90% of the workforce. I didn’t want to leave the boat when it was sinking, because the club kept its promises and believed in me. I didn’t want to betray them and I didn’t feel in danger in the countryside. Of course, I’m against all forms of war and violence, but I felt that the club and the management had nothing to do with all this and they also suffered from it, especially with the departure of the foreigners.There were at least eight or nine players in the starting lineup, so we were really struggling, we were starting to chain the defeats. We were playing with the young people in the club, who had no experience and even less maintenance. We went from the main roles to a battle for maintenance. I re got a promise from the leaders. They assured me that if they sensed danger in the country, they would send me home safely. I heard them sincere. Seeing my good faith and that I was one of the few foreigners to stay, they wanted to help me with my future choice the following summer to continue my career. This convinced me to stay. I didn’t feel like letting them go. »
His signature in Lorient
“. I knew that at 24 this would be a decisive choice for the rest of my career. I felt it was time to join a major league. I had several offers, whether in Russia in big clubs, in exotic countries or in Turkey, but I didn’t see myself there, despite the tempting offers. My goal was to keep progressing and achieve my goals. Lorient was one of the first clubs to rely on me. It all happened fast. I spoke for the first time with Aziz Mady-Mogne (sports coordinator, ed). The club had a new, very ambitious project that matched my own ambitions. We wanted to keep growing, with a certain philosophy of play. I had a very long discussion with Régis Le Bris. These two discussions convinced me. I felt this desire for the club to welcome me and help me progress. Despite other offers, it is for this reason that I chose Lorient, with my feelings and sensations. »
About the World Cup and the match against France
“It’s still in the back of my mind, but national team performance depends on club performance. I have to continue on this dynamic and progress. Then I’ll be ready for selection. I have a specific job, especially on invisible preparation, but I mostly do it in clubs. Here, he is quite advanced in player development. The club wants to improve its players. Having this need towards me allows me to be in the best conditions for this World Cup. If I said it won’t be a special match, I’d be lying. I have dual nationality, I grew up in France, I was born in France. Several players are in the same case. It will certainly be a special match, but above all it will be a great match against one of the best, if not the best team in the world. It will be played to a full stadium, we know we have a large Tunisian diaspora in Qatar. »
Find the complete interview with Montassar Talbi in the new issue of Onze Mondial, available on newsstands and on our online store.