Djet set for key role

Tuesday 10 September 2002

Under Jean Tigana at Monaco, Martin Djetou firmly established himself as one of France's most uncompromising defensive midfielders.

His form subsequently earned him a call-up to the French national side as well as some much-deserved recognition amongst Europe's top clubs. It was therefore no surprise that Parma soon came knocking at Monaco's door after the Italian side had sold star defender Lilian Thuram to Juventus.

Manager Jean Tigana has already freely admitted that he was interested in bringing Djetou to Fulham for the start of last season. Unfortunately for the Whites, at that time the pull of playing in Serie A was too great and Djetou decided to move to Parma.

However, after finding it hard to adapt to the Italian game, a reunion with his mentor proved to be the best option for Djetou.

Since his arrival at Fulham, Djetou has, again, increased the number of Tigana's ex-Monaco contingent playing in the Premiership. John Collins, Sylvain Legwinski, Ali Benarbia, Thierry Henry, Fabian Bartez and Emmanuel Petit are the other former members of Tigana's Monaco side currently plying their trade in England.

Yet Djetou is still awaiting his debut after aggravating the cartilage in his knee. But looking out over the Motspur Park arena pitch, the signs are looking promising. With fitness coach Roger Propos putting Martin through his paces with a variety of exercises, first team action doesn't look to be too far away.

One criticism that has been banded around about Fulham in the press has been that for all of the intricate passing and patient build up, the side is still lacking a commanding physical presence.

Whilst not keen to agree with that statement, John Collins, speaking to Fulham Today, freely admitted that Djetou is certainly a player who'll be nobody's victim.

"I spent two years with him at Monaco and he's a strong, physical player," said Collins. "He'll win near enough every fifty-fifty challenge. At Monaco he sat in midfield but I don't think that's the position he'll play for Fulham, but you never know.

"At Monaco he played at the bottom of the diamond, where Sean plays at the moment but I know when he played in Italy he was a central defender.

"He's more of a ball winner than a playmaker, but he can play either in midfield, at the back or at the right side of defence.

"He gives the manager another choice on the defensive side of the team. He's another member of the squad who will be vital to us as the season goes on. It's important that we've got strength in depth."

Just from looking at Djetou jogging around the training pitch; it's clear to see that he's a very imposing figure and looks certain to be up there with the other Premiership heavy-hitters.