At the age of 28, Georges Mandjeck went to meet a new challenge at Sparta Prague. A club that allows him to discover another football but also another culture. The Cameroonian international has confided to Foot Mercato and discusses in particular his adaptation, his objectives but also the solicitations which is the object. Interview.
Why did you join Sparta Prague this summer?
Georges Mandjeck: I joined Prague because sporting it was very interesting. I had the coach on the phone who had talked to me regarding the Champions League project. It’s a competition I would like to play. So today it will be difficult because the former have taken a certain lead (Viktoria Plzen, 1st with 39 points). But there are still many matches to try to come back.
You discover the Czech championship this year. What do you think ?
Some would call it a championship with a very low level. Since I was there, I have seen that there is a very good level. There are teams that are currently playing the Europa League and are doing very well. We are having a rough start to the season. When the teams play against Sparta Prague, it’s a bit of a finale for them. Sometimes it’s hard to win against these teams. With the team, we will continue to work to finish on the first position (5th with 22 points). It is a championship that I appreciate, which is much followed by European neighbors. I like it a lot.
How is your adaptation going?
Everything is going well. I made the majority of the matches as a defensive midfielder. I came here with the idea of having playing time. It was unthinkable for me to leave the championship in France to join the Czech Republic and not play. I am still young, I still have a lot to prove and learn. Only by playing that I will get there. For the moment, I’m linking the matches. We will take stock at the end of the season.
Happy at Sparta Prague?
Outside the field, have you also made your mark in the city?
It’s going very well. My family likes it a lot. The people are hospitable. There are many tourists in the city. It is a very pretty town. I had never been there before joining Sparta. I discover a beautiful place. I did not really have the opportunity to play in very large cities, because I did not want to disperse. I had the chance to sign here. I’m happy in my club and in the city.
In Prague, it’s also a different atmosphere than Ligue 1. What can you tell us about it?
The fans, especially those at Sparta Prague, are very demanding. The goal this year was to be a champion and for the moment we are 5th. They are not happy at all because they were waiting for us up there. The direct competitor, Slavia Prague, is ahead (3rd with 26 points). So that annoys our supporters. Sometimes this season we did not win matches and they came to let us know. They were waiting for us after the matches to ask for explanations. This is something I already knew a bit about in France.
This summer, Sparta led a “big” transfer and recruited several players like Rio Mavuba or Jonathan Biabiany. Is the disappointment of the fans not explained also in relation to that?
Exactly. I think this is the first time that the club and fans see so many foreign players coming. So with these investments, the club had the ambition to finish champion. The team has been almost 95% renewed. We do not know each other very well, even if there are some automatism. We are on a good run (4 games without defeat). I hope that at the end of the season we will have made the course that everyone wanted.
Mandjeck has spells in Germany and Russia.
Do you still have a look at what your former club FC Metz does? Do you regret having left?
I have no regrets for leaving Metz. As I said, I did not want to leave. But there was an opportunity where everything was together. Prague made an offer and it was accepted by all parties. I must also admit that the end of the season in Metz did not really please me. There were a few games where I did not play. It was the coach’s choice. But I always saw a look at the club yes. I saw a few matches. Two weeks ago, I was in Metz. I saw my former teammates, we discussed. I knew that this season was going to be difficult and I did not want to make the year too much in Metz. There, I achieved two goals, namely the rise in Ligue 1 and the maintenance. For me, it was very important to leave with the feeling of accomplishment. I wanted to see something else. Sparta Prague, I did not think about it. But when I knew they were interested, I was surprised and things quickly chained.
You experienced a change of club last summer. Despite this, are you the subject of some solicitations? ?
Yes, I was approached especially by Spartak Moscow. They took the temperature from my representatives. There is also Hamburg in Germany. They came to see several games this season and they asked for the conditions. For now, I am focused on Prague. But it’s always nice to have some interest from some clubs. I remain attentive to any proposal, but I am happy to be at Sparta Prague. I signed a good contract there and it would not bother me to stay until the end.
You are currently with the Lions. Is it not a disappointment as a champion of Africa not to participate in the 2018 World Cup in Russia?
Unfortunately, we won’t be going for the World Cup. We congratulate Nigeria, which is doing an almost flawless journey. We will have time to prepare for the next African Cup of Nations at home in 2019. After that, it is certain that it is a great disappointment not to participate in the World Cup. We missed our second game against Zambia (1-1), then we lost 4-0 to Nigeria. That’s where everything was played out. We really wanted to go back to Russia because we had participated in the Confederations Cup. We had a little taste of the competition. It was fate that did not want us to go back again. We will continue to work and the goal is the next AFCON. I hope it will stay home.
Translated from Foot Mercato