Defour Interview

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deanothedino
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Defour Interview

Post by deanothedino » Fri Feb 21, 2020 8:23 am

Andy Jones of The Athletic has done an interesting interview with Defour.

https://theathletic.com/1621947/2020/02 ... ed-article
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by claretonthecoast1882 » Fri Feb 21, 2020 8:33 am

herts will be all over this

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Re: Defour Interview

Post by cmobfc » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:04 am

Very, very positive about Dyche.
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by wilks_bfc » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:05 am

Anybody able to post full article?
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by deanothedino » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:39 am

wilks_bfc wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:05 am
Anybody able to post full article?
“My deepest regret is that I couldn’t be on the pitch for Burnley anymore.”

Steven Defour leans forward in his seat, perched on the edge of one of the comfy chairs in the snazzy Diamond Bar inside Royal Antwerp’s Bosuilstadion stadium. He is fresh from a training session and feeling good.

Six months ago, it was a surprise when, on the evening of August 31, after a 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool, Burnley announced that they had mutually agreed to terminate Defour’s contract, which had less than 12 months left to run.

“It was a really difficult one because I was happy at Burnley but the problem with the injury and then family and personal situations changed, and with my contract as well,” says Defour.

“The gaffer [Sean Dyche] spoke to me about everything and it was a normal conversation. He asked me, ‘Would it help for you to go back to Belgium to the medical guys who you trust injury-wise and back close to your family?’”

The midfielder is reluctant to expand on the changes to his personal situation and wishes for them to remain private but is happy to explain why he moved.

“Burnley didn’t tell me to go away. I didn’t ask to go away. We realised the agreement was the best for both of us,” he says.

“It was good to come back [to Belgium]. All the circumstances came together at one time, which is why it happened so quickly.

“If I was fit and ready to play for Burnley. I would have stayed in Burnley, so it wouldn’t have been a question. Ideally, I would still be there.”

The mutual agreement brought an end to a three-year spell at Turf Moor for Defour, with the second half of it heavily disrupted by knee and calf injuries, both of which required surgery.

The cartilage problem in his knee surfaced in January 2018, keeping him out for eight months. After a long rehabilitation process, he returned to feature in six Premier League games before picking up a calf problem.

Two successive long-term injuries are mentally challenging in the extreme. There was devastation about missing out on the rest of the season but also playing for Belgium at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Defour announced his international retirement just before the beginning of the tournament, deciding to concentrate on getting his body right for club football.

During those long 18 months, he struggled to sleep, constantly processing his situation. “It is the lowest you can be. You have a long-term injury, so you have to set yourself goals but as you go through the stages, you still feel pain. It is the worst,” Defour admits.

“You are constantly thinking about life and football. If you are back in training and you are still feeling pain and you don’t get to the level you want to be at, then you are asking the question of, ‘Do I have to continue? Is it really worth going through all of this pain to play if I can’t be the person I want to be on the pitch?’.

“Those are mindfucks, real mindfucks.”

Defour would have a two-hour rehabilitation session every day and then an additional cardio, strength or core session alongside it.

He was reluctant to talk about his injuries with anybody initially but it got to the point where he realised he needed support. After he had come back from his knee injury, the calf problems arrived after one Carabao Cup game against Burton and then six Premier League matches between October and December 2018. There were two FA Cup games in January before the decision was made that an operation was needed. His last game for Burnley was a 5-0 defeat to Manchester City on January 26, 2019.

“Every time I got back into training, I felt it. I was thinking, ‘I can’t ever train again’. Something had to be done and I thought the operation would save me but then again, it is also another operation. A surgery when you cut into the muscles is always difficult,” says Defour.

“When you speak to fans they would ask, ‘When are you coming back?’ It is tough because of course you want to be fit as soon as possible and you are doing everything but sometimes, it is more difficult than that. Each time you get a setback, you have to explain everything — it is really hard.

“I adored them and they adored me and it was a fantastic period for me in my career. I loved playing for the fans, so not being able to do that again was difficult.”

Defour’s transfer to Burnley came about quite quickly, from his point of view. He was informed by his agent that Burnley were interested in his services and within two weeks, he had put pen to paper. He admits he didn’t know much about the club, so took to Google to find out more.

“That’s honest,” he says with a laugh. “I was looking through the players. Vokesy [Sam Vokes] scored against Belgium at the European Championships. Tom Heaton was in the England squad. You look down the names and realise this player played here and there.’”

There was interest from Al Jazira Club, of the UAE, but Defour had a “few” conversations with Sean Dyche before the move, which convinced him. At 28, there was also a sense that there may not be many more opportunities at a move to England.

“The gaffer said it was a chance to enjoy the Premier League and that it was a different level. I had played in the World Cup and Champions League but the Premier League is the best league in the world,” adds Defour. “I did think it was kind of my last chance.”

“When I was with the national team, everybody was saying going to Burnley is so difficult. They kick you and they don’t stop running. They fight every time.

“You don’t want to go to Burnley in December or January, they would tell me. It is windy and cold. I was loving it,” said Defour who earned 52 caps for Belgium and laughs when remembering those conversations.

It wasn’t the first time that Defour had been subject to Premier League interest. Whilst at Standard Liege, he was subject to a bid from Everton. Liege wouldn’t allow him to move due to them qualifying for the Champions League. It was the first chance for Defour to play in Europe’s top competition, so he was happy to stay.

The closest he came to moving to the Premier League, he feels, was in the summer of 2009. He was on Liverpool’s two-man shortlist due to the sale of Xabi Alonso along with Alberto Aquilani, and there were talks to see if Defour was interested. Ultimately, Liverpool went in the opposite direction.

The move to Burnley signalled a change in mentality for Defour. He went from challenging for titles to battling relegation. The midfielder had played in a 4-4-2 system at some of his previous clubs but this was different

“When I arrived at the beginning it was like, ‘What the **** is going on?’,” Defour says with a chuckle.

“It was a lot of work in the middle of the park. There were games especially against a top-six team where you don’t see a lot of the ball and if you do see it, it is for one or two seconds but, when that is in your head, that is OK and when you see the results, it is OK.”

Defour experienced a baptism of fire as, four days after signing in August 2016, he was thrust into the line-up to play against Liverpool.

“The atmosphere around the pitch that day was amazing,” said Defour. “We scored quickly with Vokesy, so now it was defending what we had. We don’t care about the ball anymore.” A smile creeps across his face at mention of the 20 per cent possession Burnley had.

There were two things that were unusual with the signing of Defour. The first was that Burnley shopped in the European market and secondly, he was put into the line-up straightaway. Historically, Dyche is known to bed new signings into the club. They have to earn the right to play.

It was something that Defour became aware of when he immersed himself in his new environment, his knowledge now much broader than his first Google search. On the pitch, there were still some growing pains during his first season.

“It is rare that they buy European players, so he had to make sure that the transfer was going to work. It was an honour that they thought of me in that way,” he says.

“The first games, I tried to play how I was used to playing. It was difficult because we didn’t have a lot of the ball and I like having the ball.

“Sometimes, I was getting a bit… not angry but frustrated like, ‘Come on, just play!’ but the gaffer tried to explain to me that we don’t always get the ball like we want, so we have to adapt and reorganise.

The first season went by and then in my first pre-season, I said, ‘**** it, lets do it.’”

Defour has played under a number of managers during his career and when asked who was had the biggest influences on his career, he names two. The first is his current boss Laszlo Boloni, who was also his manager during “his best season” at Standard Liege between 2008 and 2010. The second is Dyche.

“The one who expanded my view on football and seeing other things was the gaffer,” explains Defour. “He made me realise that it doesn’t always have to be one idea of football. The gaffer said to me that he likes the Manchester City way. If he could play like them then he will try but if he doesn’t have the players, you need another solution.

“He taught me a lot about football because it was a different approach to what I was always used to. I used to think you needed the ball to win.

“His way worked really well. He wants to play football. In the season when we finished seventh [2017-18], we played some good football. It is not that he doesn’t want to but he wants to win.

“There was also the fact that if you work hard, at some point, you will get your chance. He really means what he says. There were no favourites, no people getting treated differently.”

Defour still follows Burnley’s progress and that is obvious with the “we” and “us” he uses when talking about his former club, making it clear he does miss Turf Moor. He posted a picture on Twitter of him watching Burnley’s 2-0 win over Manchester United in January. He describes their season as “normal”, with ups and downs.

He also stays in contact with his former team-mates, usually over Instagram. Johann Berg Gudmundsson was one of the people he was closest to at the club, sitting next to him in the changing room. Recently, he exchanged messages with Ashley Barnes after the striker underwent a hernia operation.

“The strong point of Burnley is everybody is close. We all stick together. If we went out for a drink, everybody would go,” he says. “When I arrived, it was easy to settle because the lads were amazing. Barnesy was the joker but if things weren’t going our way, he could get angry. That was the whole dressing room, though. Ben [Mee] could get mad, Tarky [James Tarkowski] as well. Nobody wants to lose and we weren’t afraid to tell each other what we thought — “You’re playing **** today or wake-up”

It was in his second season that Burnley finished seventh and secured Europa League football. Defour was an ever-present in the first half of that campaign before he suffered his cartilage injury. The season began with a 3-2 win away to defending champions Chelsea, with Defour assisting Sam Vokes for Burnley’s third goal, a win that set the tone for the season.

That pre-season was his first experience of “Gaffer’s Day”. The 31-year-old realised what he was in for when only running shoes were required.

“I’m thinking: ‘Ah sh…” Defour begins before stopping himself with a laugh. “It is basically two hours of running exercises. Even when you get a rest, the time gets stopped. It is not always difficult but it’s the continuation. It starts to get in your head.

“A few days after, the gaffer called me in. He said he was really surprised because I had one of the best stats and he said he had put a bet on it with the other coaches. He thought I would quit at some point. I said to him, ‘I’m not a quitter’. He was pleased to see that.”

On Boxing Day of that season, Burnley played Manchester United away at Old Trafford in a game which finished 2-2. The mention of it instantly brings a smile to Defour’s faces as he recalls the sensational free-kick that he scored to make it 2-0 to the visitors.



“It was amazing. Before the free-kick, Johann asked me if I wanted him to take it. I said no. He said it was far out and the wall was a bit more inside but I just told him I was taking it,” recalls Defour.

“As soon as I hit the ball, I knew I had connected nicely. I had my head down when I kicked it and then I looked up and saw the ball going in. At that point, you don’t think about scoring a goal at Old Trafford. You are just thinking that you have scored an amazing free-kick.”

It brings up another topic of conversation involving Manchester United. When Defour broke his foot for Standard Liege in 2009, United were tracking the midfielder and soon after, he received a letter from Sir Alex Ferguson wishing him well for his recovery.

“I was playing really well for Standard Liege but the injury meant I missed the start of the Champions League, says Defour. “I think a fan bumped into Sir Alex on a trip and he told him about the injury. Then he sent this letter, which was a surprise. He said in the letter that I might want to say thank you to the fan. It was really nice. I still have it but I don’t know where it is!”

Defour moved to Burnley after two seasons with Anderlecht; a difficult period. Anderlecht are big rivals with Standard Liege and the supporters of his old team made sure to let him know about it.

In a game between the two sides in January 2015, the Liege “Ultras” unfurled a huge banner before kick-off, showing Defour beheaded accompanied with the words “Red or Dead” and he was subject to abuse during the game. Smoke bombs were thrown on to the pitch.



He was sent off, picking up two yellow cards for kicking the ball away.

It was an emotionally draining couple of years and Defour admits that he had begun to have enough of the things involved around football, in particular the Belgian media. Defour wanted to just play regular football but he recalls the media frenzy it created where he felt like he became a “villain”.

“I was the main target for the media. Everybody liked to talk about it because I was going to Anderlecht. Everybody was saying that they had to be champions so every time we lost, it was my fault,” says Defour with a sigh.

“They were describing my personal life and that I went out for too many drinks. It was full-on. When I went to Burnley, it was seen as team bonding. Here, it seems like something evil.

“I don’t go out the day before the game. I’m not stupid. After a game, it can be good to have a drink. I wasn’t doing it too much in any way. Everything was magnified.”

Now he is no longer under that strain. Defour seems relaxed and shares jokes with his team-mates, including former Everton winger Kevin Mirallas when he walks past.

He already had a relationship with Royal Antwerp vice-president Luciano D’Onofrio from their time together at Standard Liege. A conversation between the pair at the beginning of pre-season saw D’Onofrio ask the question if a move back to Belgium was possible.

At the time of the call, Burnley had told Defour they wanted to see him in pre-season, so he was not for sale and Defour relayed that message on. But when he returned to Belgium after agreeing the termination, Defour got back in touch and the deal was done pretty quickly.

A change of scenery has not changed the midfielder’s fortune when it comes to injury, however. A small hamstring tear kept him out of action from the end of September until mid-December.

Defour believes he would have been “Burnley fit” at the end of October providing there were no setbacks and at the beginning of October, would have begun playing three 90-minute games behind closed doors or with the under-23s (“the Burnley rule”).

He played for Antwerp in mid-September but admits he was not fully fit. On top of that, there is a distinct difference between the Premier League and the Belgian League in terms of pace and quality.

Royal Antwerp currently sit fourth in the Pro League table with four games remaining and a play-off place almost secured. They also have the Belgian Cup final to look forward to at the end of March against leaders Club Brugge.

“Now, I feel really good. I have to do a long warm-up in the gym because of the operation to stay on top of it but hopefully I can continue to stay fit,” he says.

“I am happy and looking forward to the end of the season — I’m usually injured at this point.”
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Steve-Harpers-perm
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by Steve-Harpers-perm » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:48 am

Good interview and more great praise for Dyche from an ex player.
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by ClaretAndBlue94 » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:50 am

Really is a shame. I never thought a player like that would play for us.

A privilege watching him play.
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by NottsClaret » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:57 am

The best player I've seen play for us - he looked a top 4 player when he was fully fit. The way some people talk you'd think he wanted to be injured.
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by wilks_bfc » Fri Feb 21, 2020 11:07 am

Cheers deano.

Shows the mutual respect that he & Dyche had and have for each other

Compare this to the Drinkwater & Gibson situation and it shows that thinks can be done in the correct manner
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by Gordaleman » Fri Feb 21, 2020 11:27 am

Defour has got to be one of the best players ever to wear a Burnly shirt and I'm hoping that Brownhill can play a similar role. (Yes, I know it's asking a lot.)

For me though, that interview says more about Sean Dyche and his empathy with his players, than about Steven. The whole interview indicates how much Defour though about Sean, and how that helped him love his time at Burnley.

I'd love to see Steven back at Turf Moor doing something at half time. Because of the circumstances of his leaving, we never got the chance to say goodbye and thank him for his efforts and I'd like to do that.
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by Bin Ont Turf » Fri Feb 21, 2020 11:43 am

Calling all Black Cloud Chasers, read it and weep (and shut the f**k up) .............

“The one who expanded my view on football and seeing other things was the gaffer,” explains Defour. “He made me realise that it doesn’t always have to be one idea of football. The gaffer said to me that he likes the Manchester City way. If he could play like them then he will try but if he doesn’t have the players, you need another solution.
“There was also the fact that if you work hard, at some point, you will get your chance. He really means what he says. There were no favourites, no people getting treated differently.”
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by IanMcL » Fri Feb 21, 2020 11:52 am

It was pure pleasure to watch Steven Defour in a Burnley shirt.
Still Burnley in his head!

Welcome back any time - look like he comes back in any case!

We've got Defour!
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by TheFamilyCat » Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:03 pm

Good read.

I thought he was on the brink of signing for Man U at one point before getting injured. Only mentions Everton and Liverpool as previous PL interest.

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Re: Defour Interview

Post by Granny WeatherWax » Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:05 pm

Most talented player i have seen in a burnley shirt, massive shame his body wouldnt allow him to play more.

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Re: Defour Interview

Post by ksrclaret » Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:07 pm

“When you speak to fans they would ask, ‘When are you coming back?’ It is tough because of course you want to be fit as soon as possible and you are doing everything but sometimes, it is more difficult than that. Each time you get a setback, you have to explain everything — it is really hard.

“I adored them and they adored me and it was a fantastic period for me in my career. I loved playing for the fans, so not being able to do that again was difficult.”

My thoughts are with claretonthecoast at this difficult time. It must have been hard for him/ her to read a thing like that.
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by martin_p » Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:09 pm

It will be the saddest day of my football life (stretching back to the mid 70s) when Sean Dyche finally leaves Burnley. Make the most of the good times, they won’t last forever.
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by Paul Waine » Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:22 pm

"It was in his second season that Burnley finished seventh and secured Europa League football. Defour was an ever-present in the first half of that campaign before he suffered his cartilage injury. The season began with a 3-2 win away to defending champions Chelsea, with Defour assisting Sam Vokes for Burnley’s third goal, a win that set the tone for the season."

This is the Steven Defour I remember. 0-3 up at half-time at Stamford Bridge. Plus a 1-1 at Wembley in the following away game, with Defour clearing from our goal line when we were 1-0 down.

We had a fantastic player in our team, until the injuries became too much.

UTC
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by Goobs » Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:28 pm

Hopefully we can have a reunion with him next season in one European competition or the other :D

Great read that.

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Re: Defour Interview

Post by TVC15 » Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:46 pm

For sheer technical quality and ability to read the game then he may well be the best central midfielder the club has ever had. We are talking about a player who whilst at Burnley was also getting picked for the first eleven in the no 1 ranked international team in the world alongside Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard etc....blows your mind really.

Yes his injuries were a massive blow but to be honest its only because of his injury record that he cost £8m and that Burnley managed to get him. The injury he got in 2009 was a serious career threatening injury.

That's a great interview and its great to see the respect he had for Dyche and his team mates and the respect they all had for Defour.

Defour gave us some great performances and that partnership with Jack Cork for the first 6 months of his second season was one of the best central midfield partnerships we will ever see for the club - they brought the best out of each other and Jack got picked for England...a lot of that has to do with playing with Defour. He also scored 3 unbelievably good goals for us topped off with that one at United where the no 1 goalkeeper in the world at the time could not get near his free kick.
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by Gordaleman » Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:57 pm

Goobs wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:28 pm
Hopefully we can have a reunion with him next season in one European competition or the other :D

Great read that.
Maybe a pre season match against Antwerp could be arranged?

That would give us all a chance to say "Thank you."
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by Spike » Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:59 pm

great article. I must admit it sheds a different light on him keep trotting off back to Belgium.

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Re: Defour Interview

Post by Steve-Harpers-perm » Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:25 pm

martin_p wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:09 pm
It will be the saddest day of my football life (stretching back to the mid 70s) when Sean Dyche finally leaves Burnley. Make the most of the good times, they won’t last forever.
Absolutely.
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by claretbob » Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:37 pm

As another who first started watching in the mid 70s I’d certainly second that. Thankfully for us the rest of the EPL is brainwashed by the mantra of tippy tappy football and seem unlikely to steal Dyche away. We’ve also to be grateful to our much maligned recruitment team for spotting a very decent replacement for Defour in Ashley Westwood!
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by Claretmatt4 » Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:44 pm

"Defour believes he would have been “Burnley fit” at the end of October providing there were no setbacks and at the beginning of October, would have begun playing three 90-minute games behind closed doors or with the under-23s (“the Burnley rule”)."

Great interview. That is quite interesting then, it's no myth!

Defour is the most gifted player I've ever seen. I can still remember that goal v Hull City where he took the ball out or orbit, brought it under control whilst simultaneously taking two Hull defenders out of the game. Sprints length of the pitch and fires it in. A beauty.
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by Gordaleman » Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:45 pm

claretbob wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:37 pm
As another who first started watching in the mid 70s I’d certainly second that. Thankfully for us the rest of the EPL is brainwashed by the mantra of tippy tappy football and seem unlikely to steal Dyche away. We’ve also to be grateful to our much maligned recruitment team for spotting a very decent replacement for Defour in Ashley Westwood!
Westy is good, but he's no Steven Defour. There is a massive gulf in class between them. Don't get me wrong, I like Westy a lot but I think Brownhill is more likely to fill the Defour role, at the expense of Cork, (Who I also like.) hopely sliding inch perfect passes through to our new forward line of Vydra and JayRod. :)

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Re: Defour Interview

Post by SussexDon1inIreland » Fri Feb 21, 2020 1:57 pm

Great article/ interview
Thanks for sharing!

Looking back it was great having Stephen Defour (and Joey Barton who also did a great job for us) but it was the occasional skills that Defour showed that were truly world class that were wonderful to see.

But as someone said if Stevie did t have his injuries he would have been snapped up by far bigger clubs than ours so at least we had some magic from the man before the injuries proved too severe for the premier league

It’s also great to read about his fondness and respect for Sean Dyche, the club and the fans

UTC

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Re: Defour Interview

Post by CombatClaret » Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:08 pm

Some of the bile posted on here about him being happy to lounge around in Belgium while he cashed the cheques was disgusting.

Brilliant player, I'll remember that free kick at OT until the day I die.

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Re: Defour Interview

Post by RingoMcCartney » Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:32 pm

Yet another player that moves on to pastures new, and only has complimentary things to say about our gaffer.

Theres a consistent pattern to what players , who've left , have to say about him.

We are very lucky to have Sean Dyche.
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by IanMcL » Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:39 pm

Brilliant player. Brilliant manager.
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Re: Defour Interview

Post by DCWat » Sat Feb 22, 2020 9:17 am

RingoMcCartney wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:32 pm
Yet another player that moves on to pastures new, and only has complimentary things to say about our gaffer.

Theres a consistent pattern to what players , who've left , have to say about him.

We are very lucky to have Sean Dyche.
Ings should read that article.

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Re: Defour Interview

Post by Buxtonclaret » Sat Feb 22, 2020 11:03 am

Good read.
Cheers, deano.

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