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Naybet's reflections

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Noureddine Naybet reflects on his first season in England, adapting to a change of culture both on and off the pitch and his hopes for next season.

How do you feel your first season in the Premier League went?
Noureddine Naybet: "I was pleased with the way the season turned out in general, but obviously it would have been better had we qualified for Europe. It would have been really special for me had we achieved that. But I get on very well with all the players and I feel really comfortable with the surroundings and my team-mates."

You’ve played football in a few countries now, how easy did you find it to adapt to the English lifestyle?
NN: "It was difficult at the beginning, I didn’t know the players, the people, the country or the training, but as soon as I got to grips with things I really started to enjoy myself.

"I found it quite easy to adapt myself into the team because I had the experience of doing it already in Spain, Portugal and France. It is especially easy to adapt to the football side of things, I throw myself into it fully and don’t think about previous places or clubs, I just concentrate about here and now.

"When you decide to go somewhere you need to switch off from what you know and open up to your new environment and show you character and personality. You can’t draw yourself away and expect that everything will come together, you have to work at things and get involved."

And how have you found the Premiership compared with the other leagues you have played in?
NN: "The Premiership is just what I imagined it would be and I think it is easy to adapt when you know what to expect, if you don’t know and aren’t prepared then it would be difficult. With the English game, it is changing as well, it’s not like it used to be, it is changing with the introduction of overseas players, coaches and managers. It isn’t as fast as it used to be.

"English football is one of the best but it can be THE best with the arrival of the finest players around the world. Their introduction over the last 15 years and in the future could make it the most attractive league in the world.

"I’ve enjoyed playing in the league very much. The experience I have from other leagues has helped me and now to play in England means I have another thing to add to my game and enhance my own experience."

What are your thoughts on the squad?
NN: "It’s a miracle what happened here at Spurs last season, to bring in so many new players and new coaches and to get them play so well together so quickly — fantastic. Despite so many changes, we were playing for a place in Europe on the last day of the season. A new manager needs time with so many new players, but we have achieved this very quickly, our results were very positive and it was a great achievement.

"I think the players here are very good and young, they have a future and in the future they can be even better if they express themselves. To reach the higher level they need to work hard and be level-headed. The character of these players is very important and I think if they want to achieve things, then they are good enough but it is up to them to work at it. The players must organise themselves in their lives to succeed.

"We have a lot of young players whose quality is very good and they can be excellent Spurs players but again, it comes down to how much they want it, if they put in the hard work I have no doubt they can become top class players.

"I like Martin Jol too because he has modern ideas and wants to merge them with the traditional Spurs style of football."

Within our young squad you are considered as one of the most experienced players, is that a role that you enjoy?
NN: "Having experience in the team is important, and players such as myself can tell the younger ones things but it is up to them whether they want to listen! But I do think that younger players should look up to the experienced players and see what they have achieved. Even now I am still watching other players and learning things, from old and young players. It is good being an experienced player but it is a big responsibility as well, that is a challenge in itself."

On the international scene, you are one of an elite band of players to have won over 100 caps for his country having played 109 times for Morocco, how does that make you feel?
NN: "I’m very proud to have played so much for my country but any player should be proud to represent their nation, even if it’s just once. In fact, there is a journalist in Morocco who has known me since I was a child, he has kept track of my career and he believes I have played much more than 109 times !

"I’ve had a long career with my country and I am honoured to be able to say that. Our current national team manager used to play in goal behind me, he was in goal in the 1986 World Cup game against England!

"At the moment we are in a good position to qualify for the 2006 World Cup — we are ahead by two points in our group with two games to go. We have a squad similar to Spurs with a lot of young, quality players with big futures.

With the experienced you’ve gained during your long career, have you any ambitions to go into coaching?
NN: "Actually, I don’t want to be a coach but I would like to stay in football and I like the idea of running an information centre for young players to help them. Of course, I have a lot of experience in the game from different countries and a lot of people have said that they think I would make a good coach, but it’s not something I’m thinking of doing.

What are your thoughts for next season at Spurs?
NN: "I’m confident we can progress again but we must all work hard, that’s what it’s all about. It’s very important for everyone to look forward, work together and reach the next level — that needs hard work from everyone at the club."

Interview by Jon Rayner, Official Matchday Programme Editor