I'm French and French I'll stay

  • by Staff Writer
  • Thursday, 11th October 2018

Issa Diop says that he will not turn his back on France - despite being offered the opportunity to represent both Senegal and Morocco.

The 21-year-old central defender is yet to represent the full French side in a competitive fixture, meaning that he is potentially able to change loyalties as a result of having a Moroccan mother and a father who hails from Senegal.

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However on Wednesday, the Toulouse-born Diop insisted that he would never turn his back on France. "I always said that I will play only for France and no-one else, " Diop told local newspaper La Depeche.

"Whether I'm selected or never selected for the national squad, I will not play for another country. I was born in France, it's in France that I have everything - so I do not see why I would play for another nation.

"It has always been a dream to play for France."

Diop, who has thoroughly impressed at West Ham since making a ?22million switch from Toulouse during the summer was also roundly praised recently by Jose Mourinho.

The vastly-successful Manchester United manager congratulated West Ham's scouts for unearthing the defender following West Ham's 3-1 win against the Red Devils last month - although Diop remains determined not to let that go to his head.

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"When a coach like Jose Mourinho says that you are 'a monster', do you imagine that it should make you happy?" he added. "Frankly yes, it's nice - but he's not my coach so no more. I'll keep my head on my shoulders and stay myself."

And with regards to life in London - and the Premier League - Diop admitted that he was settling into his new surroundings well.

"It's going very well, my team mates are nice to me," he added. Before arriving I did not know them personally but I knew who they were because I watched football on TV. Sure, the results could have been better!

"London is a bigger city than Toulouse but I do not go out much, so I don't really notice the difference.

"It's a league where you have to be very, very strong in transition. For me, that's the biggest difference with French football. The attacking players are all talented and very athletic, more so than in France. There is not necessarily more contact, but the players are faster and generally stronger."

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