Karim El Mourabet against Auxerrois Moussa N'Diaye in 2007. -
FRANK PERRY / AFP
Karim El Mouabet, ex-Lille, but above all Canari, now works in the bakery sector in Rabat, Morocco.
The former central defender, European champion in 2004 with Nasri, Ben Arfa and Benzema, looks back on his professional career and his long stay in Nantes.
He is more talkative than when he passed journalists in the Jonelière car park.
Ten years after leaving FC Nantes, Karim El Mourabet has found his way.
And you can hear it in his voice.
This father of two is having fun in his career change.
He is now the manager of a bakery franchise.
"I always wanted to be master of my destiny, and not dependent on other people like when I was a player," explains the one who lives in Rabat in Morocco.
The former 34-year-old central defender is absolutely "not nostalgic" for his decade of professional football during which he played in France in Nantes and Lille, a passage in the North in the anonymity of a reserve team.
back on his career and his post-career.
"We were under a bell at La Jonelière"
“I signed my first contract with FCN the day Marama Vahirua scored the title in 2001 against Saint-Etienne.
I remember my years at the center with trainers like Le Dizet, Guyot, Fenillat, Amisse etc.
We were under a bell.
We were there to learn.
When I sign here, it's a family club.
We tell you that even if you are young, you can have your chance in pro.
At the time, I refused Auxerre who gave me money and I chose Nantes, where there was a real philosophy.
"FC Nantes has become Dallas"
“Quickly, FC Nantes became Dallas.
I tell myself that I really have arrived at the worst of times.
In 2004-2005, it is the beginning of the shit.
It's the end of the cycle.
There was no calm climate for young people.
There are players coming from everywhere and nowhere.
Swedes, Dutch, etc.
The club was for sale and not for sale [Dassault was the owner].
There is even Barthez who arrives in Nantes… The assistant who takes the place of the coach.
What a big waste.
We feel the end of the Landreau, Da Rocha and Savinaud generation.
"In 2004, I became European champion with the Blues"
“In 2004, I became European champion with the French under-17 team.
This golden generation made up of Menez, Ben Arfa, Nasri or Benzema has become the gray generation.
I never understood why we treated them like that.
They weren't a problem in the locker room.
We, with Steven Thicot [another FCN trained player] in central defense, we closed behind and we knew that in front, they would make the difference.
They had so much talent.
"The coaches follow one another at the FCN"
“In 2007, it is the arrival of Mr. Kita.
Guyot leaves and sports directors like Larièpe and Favard arrive.
Some players were close and protected by management.
There is even one who breaks the jaw of another [Babovic kicked Abdoun in 2008].
Here again, the environment is not conducive to the emergence of young people from the center into pro.
Me, in addition, I seriously injured my knee.
The coaches follow one another at the club.
We no longer find in pro all the language that we were able to learn during training.
"I find myself unemployed for a year"
“I find myself at the end of my contract in 2010. Two weeks before the end of the transfer window, I have to sign in Troyes.
We agree, but overnight, I have no more news.
I never knew why.
There, I find myself unemployed for a year.
I live between Paris and Orléans, my hometown.
I realize that I am in the rough and that no one will give me gifts.
There is no one in the football world to support you.
I am alone with my nose in my bowl.
Fortunately, I have a big family and amazing parents.
"In Lille, I supervise young people like Digne and Pavard"
“In 2011, a friend I met in Marrakech put me in touch with Lille.
I give it a try and it keeps me.
I played in reserve for almost two years.
I regain a taste for football.
Lille really gives me a lifeline.
I supervise young people like Digne… and Pavard, who did not even have a CFA holder.
"I played the African Champions League"
“In 2013, I joined Morocco.
I first worked at FUS Rabat for two years.
I play the African Champions League there.
Then, I sign at the Olympique de Safi where I know the coach.
A few months later, he was fired.
I decide to leave, but the club refuses to pay me.
I won in court [the Court of Arbitration for Sport finds him right at the end of 2016].
It's the end of my career.
"I am the manager of eight bakeries in Morocco"
“I have been managing eight bakeries in Morocco since 2017. The franchise is called Les Maîtres du Pain, and it is totally inspired by French bakeries.
French chefs came to train our bakers in Morocco.
We have 200 employees in all.
In parallel, I pass my coaching diplomas.
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