How my time with Zidane still inspires my career - Pericard
Last updated at 12:17, Thursday, 15 October 2009
Juventus isn’t just an impressive word that Vincent Pericard is entitled to slap at the top of his CV.
It is the motivating force that will propel the 27-year-old striker through every day of his new challenge with Carlisle United.
Pericard may be the first player in football history to include both the Stadio delle Alpi and Brunton Park as his venues of employment. For many, this would be a plummet too far.
United’s new signing suggests otherwise, as he steers you back a decade and explains that his teenage years spent training with the global stars of Italy’s ‘Old Lady’ taught him about life at the game’s peak – and provided him with memories he is desperate to rouse again.
One of the reasons he is attacking with relish his role as Carlisle’s new line-leader in League One is that he still believes he can glimpse the summit.
It may be an outrageous dream, but Pericard is adamant that a successful time in the foothills at Brunton Park can get him upwardly-mobile again as he enters his prime years.
You listen to his account of life with Juve, and begin to understand. “It’s something I will never forget,” he says of his time with the Turin giants, which yielded a single first-team appearance against Arsenal in the Champions’ League.
“To be around such great players, you see what real professionalism is like and it gives you dreams. It gives you something to work for.
“The best player was Zinedine Zidane, of course. But there was also Alessandro Del Piero, Edgar Davids, Gianluigi Buffon...with all these amazing players, you just feel like, ‘wow’. I was amongst them, training with them, and I was just a kid at the time, really. It is what helped me to keep going and have confidence in my abilities. I was there for a reason, I was chosen, and it helped me a lot.”
The great Zidane was inevitably the player to whom this young Frenchman aspired.
“I learnt so much from him,” adds Pericard. “He helped to give me my attitude which is to be professional, dedicated and to work hard to get where they got.
“When you have been at a place like that, when you have tasted it, you just want to go back. It’s what gave me the drive, even when I have had injuries, to keep working and working. I want to reach the top and I think I can do it. I am going to give it 100 per cent. Whatever happens, nobody will be able to say I have not tried.”
These stunning, aspirational words might not fly from the lips of every player whose next football engagement comes at Yeovil’s Huish Park.
Pericard’s ability to deliver his big ambition depends on whether or not he can find the goalscoring form with Carlisle that has eluded him since his last prolific goalscoring stint not with Juventus but with Portsmouth, more than six years ago.
What United’s manager, Greg Abbott, would dearly love to summon is the Pericard who briefly became a Fratton Park hero earlier this decade.
He will be encouraged, therefore, by the things Pericard says about his first experience of Brunton Park, which came on Saturday when he joined a 6,825 crowd to watch his new team-mates beaten 1-0 by Norwich.
“It reminded me of what it was like when I was at Portsmouth,” he says. “They are real fans here, not posh fans. They believe, they sing, and they make the players feel special. That’s what any football player wants – to feel liked. The fans here give that impression.
“My best time in English football was at Portsmouth. When we got promoted from the Championship to the Premiership, I scored 10 goals and I was a very important part of the team with Harry Redknapp.
“I was very young and only just in England, but I enjoyed my time there, and there is nothing better than getting promoted.”
Those heady days were followed by a less successful time with Stoke, a succession of loan moves, his well-chronicled five-week prison stint, his release from the Britannia Stadium at the end of last season and a handful of trials, before United arrived with their three-month contract offer this week.
The hope is that Pericard’s ability, which flourished earlier in the decade, can reveal itself again in his new surroundings.
“I didn’t know much about the club before I arrived. but from what I have heard they had a very good game against Portsmouth in the cup,” the striker says.
“After watching them on Saturday, they haven’t got many weaknesses. In front of goal, maybe, but the amount of pressure they had was unbelievable. It is just that finishing touch that is needed. But the way they play, the way they work, the togetherness of the team – it’s amazing. I’m sure I can add something.
“One of my main qualities is finishing. If I get the service from crosses or from midfield, I will score goals. If we work together, they will come.
“But I can’t say much more than that, because as a footballer I believe you do your talking on the pitch.”
Pericard is plainly up to the physical demands of League One, but insists that “it is a good league, and you have to play with your brain”.
Just as pertinent is his simple desire to be playing regular football again, after the achilles injury that terminated last season’s loan spell at Millwall and which, he says, may have clouded the views of other managers unwilling to give him a fresh opportunity.
“For the manager here to take a chance on me when others didn’t believe I was fit, I am very grateful,” he says. “It is very comforting and I don’t want to let him down.
“I just want to get down to business, do my work, make him happy. Physically I feel great, mentally I am mature, I have got experience and the best of me is going to come now.”
And where might that lead Carlisle’s distinctive new centre-forward?
“I am not going to lie,” he replies. “I want to play as many games as I can and get back to where I was before my injury, to the Championship and maybe even higher.”
Certainly, actions must follow these ambitious words. But would you fancy being a Yeovil centre-half, at this precise moment?
First published at 11:35, Thursday, 15 October 2009
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk