After playing his 250th match in Sochaux at the weekend, 'Bafé' discusses his current form - and that of Olympique Lyonnais.
250 [the number of matches 'Bafé' has played in France's top flight]
"It's with a lot of pride that I look back on what I've accomplished. At Tola Vologe, I rub shoulders on a daily basis with youngsters hoping to become professional footballers and I can see myself in them. As a kid, I dreamed of being a professional, to live my dream, and that was enough to make me happy. I was lucky enough to play with some huge players and to enjoy plauying every weekend. I was also lucky to play at a club Saint-Etienne with its stadium known as 'The Cauldron'. And then I moved to OL, with its high ambitions, finishing among the top places each season and the strong competition for a place in the first team. If I had been playing to beat the drop during my 250 matches, this statistic wouldn't have the same allure. Here I had to prove myself, and that means something. But it's not an end in itself; I see each match as a new beginning where I have to start all over again."
77 [his total of Ligue 1 goals]
"[Smiles] It's not that impressive. A lot of players have scored more goals - like Bernard Lacombe, who is a living legend with over 200 goals. Thanks to his advice, and to the advice of Sonny Anderson as well, I've been able to keep progressing. Still, I'm not looking to compare myself to anyone, I'm doing my own humble thing. Over and above the number of matches I've played, or the number of goals I've scored, I like to stay focused on my progress. And I want everyone to know that I'm hoping to do better than last season because I feel stronger, and I think the team is also stronger and can hope for better. But, when I look back at the end of my career, I may well say to myself that my numbers weren't that bad after all!"
3 [the number of assists Yoann Gourcuff has provided for him this season]
"We work together well out on the pitch. He's a player with above-average technical skill, especially when he's 100%. Yoann is very important for the team, thanks in no small part to the qualoty of his passing. His niggling injuries have been a bit of a handbrake for him, but now that he's getting back to his best, he's a real asset for the squad. Yoann talks a bit more, and he jokes around more than he used to despite his naturally reserved character. He's a lad with a lot of qualities as a person; he's a good guy who just needed to feel at home at the club and in his life. And today, we're reaping the rewards out on the pitch."
Return to the Champions League
14/11/2012 [the date of France's friendly vs. Italy]
"I'm proud to represent my country and I always want to step up and give my best when I'm called on. Taking on Italy is a laways a big deal, like playing Spain. Against Spain, France showed that we have no reason to doubt ourselves and that we can upset the existing order of things. It's clear that a strong squad is in the process of establishing itself, a squad full of joy and good humour. Didier Deschamps has imbued the group with certain virtues and values, notably a winning mentality."
32 [the age of Steed Malbranque]
His career has been incredible. What he's brought to the team, where he has come from - after a year off - is incredible. If he continues on this path, he'll definitely be knocking on the door of the France squad. And Didier Deschamps told him as much - he's been watching Steed's performances. Steed could give the coach some selection headaches in the future. And it would be a win-win situation."
12 [the number of points collected by OL in the Europa LEague this season]
The club always said it would do its best to go as a far as possible in the Europa lEague this season. In being the only side [out of 48] to register a perfect record so far [four wins], it's clear that we've been as good as our word. Now our objective is to stay in top spot and remain undefeated. If we do that, OL could have an advantage in the draw and get to play the return leg of the first knockout round at Gerland. That's a great objective for us, especially as we rarely got to play the crunch matches at home in the Champions League in recent seasons. At the same time, and in parallel, that;'s our other objective: to return to the Champions League. It's a competition that's vital to the club and which offers a chance to return to the upper echelons of the European scene."