Beşiktaş’s French coach Valerien Ismael gave a candid interview to the German Bild newspaper and talked about his first period in the black and white team and his experiences in Turkish football.
Here is Bild’s interview with Valerien Ismael:
After you left West Bromwich, you changed your name with other English clubs, but in the end you came to Beşiktaş. How did the process evolve?
Turkey was not on my list (Laughs). Actually, I would love to stay in England. One hour after my departure from West Brom was announced, I received an offer from a Championship team. Then when the call came from Turkey, ‘Okay, this is not just any club. Beşiktaş is a top club with an international reputation. I have to deal with it.’ I said. Our deal was short lived.
What attracted you most about this job?
Beşiktaş is a great adventure. An extraordinary club. In the few months I’ve spent here, I’ve come to understand this again. I felt it even in my barbershop in Munich, which I always go to. She is a Turkish woman and has nothing to do with football. For years, when I cut my hair, we only talked about our family and our children. His brother and brother-in-law are fans of Beşiktaş. He has been supporting me since I became Beşiktaş coach. Beşiktaş’s love and passion transcends borders.
Have you ever had goosebumps in Istanbul?
Fenerbahce derby ending 1-1. I can’t explain that crazy match, you have to live it. I’ve been in football for 28 years, I’ve seen big matches, but this derby was very special. The competition, the adrenaline, the heated atmosphere were truly incredible.
“I HAVE TO USE SIGNAL LANGUAGE”
Beşiktaş fans are very passionate, the stadium atmosphere is very hot. How can you work in this atmosphere?
Especially when whistling, there is an excessive noise. Their noise is a big advantage for us. They put pressure on the opponent and the referee. When the game stops for a short time, I try to pull the kids aside and give directions, but I usually use sign language because I’m too loud. I developed such a system after our first match in Istanbul. We had a training session open to the fans in the stadium and there were 12 thousand people in the grandstand. There was so much noise that I couldn’t give instructions to my players and at that moment I realized that I needed to find a solution and work with sign language.
What are your goals for the new season?
Beşiktaş is a big and emotional club with more than 20 million fans. The previous season, the team became the champion and won the Turkish Cup. The clear goal for Beşiktaş is the championship.
“BESIKTAS IS LIKE BAYERN MUNIH”
Everything here is at the highest level as an organization. Travels, camps, hotels… Everything is 5 star comfort. Every employee takes pride in their work. I felt that at Bayern Munich too. Every player strives to be the best on the field. Wherever we play, everyone is motivated against us. It is the same with other teams against Bayern in Germany. For example, we went to Giresun away in the 33rd week of last season. The opponent had secured their stay in the league and in the previous game there were only a few fans in the stands. In our match, the stands were full, the rival footballers played with extra motivation in every area of the field. They continued to struggle until their feet cramped. It was a crazy experience. You should not forget that in Beşiktaş, just like in Bayern, your opponent gave 110% to the match.
Beşiktaş’s transfer record holder, Cenk Tosun, is back and you’ve got Weghorst. What are your expectations from your experienced forwards in the new season?
Cenk Tosun is a top local striker who can speak German and English. He played in the big leagues and gained international experience. He is also an important figure for the club. He’s in good shape right now, his athletic form and his brutality in the opponent’s penalty area will be valuable to us. Weghorst is also a player who can make a difference in difficult moments. We’ve been missing players like this lately.
You have an impulsive stance on the side of the field. Are there any coaches you look up to?
Not as role models, but I love Diego Simeone and Antonio Conte. Pressing is always in my philosophy. I can’t wait to calmly wait on the sidelines. I must be someone who fires players. I should do this especially when they are tired, distressed, or in doubt.