‘I think I can be in the starting 11’ – El Mizouni on Town journey, Cambridge loan and ambitions for 20/21
Midfielder Idris El Mizouni has his sights set on the Ipswich Town first team in 2020/21. Here’s what the French teenager said in a podcast with former Blues star and youth team coach Kieron Dyer.
ON JOINING IPSWICH
I was playing in a local team in Paris and played in a tournament against some English teams. I didn’t play against Leicester, because my coach said I could only play one of the two games in three days, so instead I played against Ipswich. I did really well and after that they asked me for a trial.
I came in over the summer, played against Arsenal, and after that I signed as a scholar with (fellow Frenchman) Lounes (Foudil).
ON DIFFICULT START
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I played in the Hospital Cup against Norwich and a couple of days later I went back and played for my team in Paris. I broke my ankle and was out for five months. You never want to start with an injury. It’s a bad impression.
I wasn’t really speaking English at the start, so it was a bit hard. I’ve known Lounes since we were nine and we are really good friends, so having him here meant I wasn’t homesick. It did feel like he was getting a bit more attention than me though and I was a bit angry. If they’re saying he’s better than me, I thought ‘I need to show them’. That’s how football is.
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In that first year I got injured a lot and I didn’t really play my position, I was playing right-back, centre-back, sometimes number four. I think it was a learning year. It was about staying strong mentally and making sure I was ready to come back stronger.
ON KIERON DYER INFLUENCE
I was happy (when Dyer was made joint U18s manager) because I know you from the Under-16s. I know how you want us to play. When you picked me in centre-mid I wasn’t really nervous because I thought ‘he knows how good I am’. I just felt free to do what I wanted to do on the pitch. You bring me confidence.
You and Ads (joint manager Adem Atey) made it more competitive. We did the yellow bib (which has to be worn by the week’s worst trainer) every Friday. Everybody was like ‘I need to be at 100% in training’. You introduced an end of season awards too, which everyone was happy with.
In France, playing youth football, we had a league. If you lost a game the manager got mad and swore at everyone. TWhen I came over to England I felt that it wasn’t really the same. It was all about learning, but I think you need that pressure to win.
Do you remember Tom Lawrence? The first game I watched I was really impressed by how he was playing. Remember that goal he scored in off the crossbar? I was like ‘woah’.
Bryan Klug was someone, if I was feeling bad or need anything, I could go to his office. He’s the type of guy, if you a feel a bit sad, you can go and talk to him. He’ll help you with anything.
ON PAUL HURST AND CHRIS DOIG
I wasn’t anywhere near the first team under Mick McCarthy, then Paul Hurst came and that’s when I started to train with the first team. I knew he really liked me.
I think he was really good for the youth team. He watched a lot of our games and even came in and took some sessions. When you have a manager like that you just want to give everything and show him ‘look how good I am’.
It was the same with his assistant (Chris Doig). It was a bit unfair that some fans said he was a bully because when you know him well you wouldn’t say that.
When they left I didn’t know if I’d get the same chance.
ON DEBUT UNDER PAUL LAMBERT
I wasn’t really expecting it to be fair. During the week I didn’t even train with the first team, then on Sunday I was involved in five-v-five and did really well. After that, Stu (Taylor, assistant manager) said ‘tomorrow you travel with us to Bristol’. I thought I’d just be travelling for the experience, but a couple of hours before kick-off they said I was on the bench. I was really surprised and bit nervous. I ended up coming on for the last 15 minutes.
ON CLUB’S ‘BEST TRAINERS’
Teddy Bishop is the best. He just dribbles past everyone – it’s too easy for him. If he gets fit and plays week-in, week-out he’d be the best player. I’d have to say Doz (Andre Dozzell) is up there too with that no-look pass he can do. Woolfy (Luke Woolfenden) is up there as well.
We do old versus young games in training and I’d say we beat them more than they beat us.
ON CAMBRIDGE UNITED LOAN SPELL
After getting a taste in the first team it was frustrating not to be involved more. I know we have a big squad and there can only be 11 players on the pitch, but I thought I deserved to be on the bench. That’s how it is. You need to work hard.
So yes, I did push for the loan to Cambridge. I wanted to play more first team games so that the manager knew he could trust me in the future.
It was really enjoyable. I played seven or eight game and played really well. They were happy. We were 20th and got up to 11th and nearly made the play-offs. It was a good time.
A team like Plymouth, they play really good football and could play in League One easily. I think they could be top half of League One. But if you play a team like Morecambe it’s more like battling and tackling. It’s not really football. It’s just long ball.
ON KNEE INJURY
They (Carlisle) had a throw-in, I tracked the man, went to tackle and my leg got stuck in the grass. My knee just turned and I heard the crack. I knew that my season was finished.
That was at the end of February and my knee is better now. During lockdown I had to do rehab in my flat, which was hard because I don’t have any equipment, but I did what I could.
PERSONAL TARGETS FOR 2020/21
I want to play week-in, week-out with Ipswich. I want to try and get in the team and play every game. I think I can do it. I think I can be in the starting 11.