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February 27, 2013 at 1:13 PM

A stop and chat with Djimi Traore

Sounders FC defender Djimi Traore signed on Saturday but had been away from the club for several days as he got his visa and international clearance sorted out. The veteran rejoined the team for training Wednesday and spoke with local reporters afterward for the first time.

Here is the transcript:

*     *     *

(How did this come to be? When did you and the Sounders first make contact?) “It was like a few weeks ago. I got a phone call from my agent and he talked to me about the MLS and things like that. When I heard it was Seattle I was excited because from Europe I know it’s a very great club. I’m so pleased to join the MLS.”

(How do you feel fitness-wise and how will you mix in?) “I think I’ll need a few days or something like that. … I’ve been surprised by the level of players. I think it’s a great club and has great players.”

(What is it about the team that has helped you fit in so well?) “For me, I didn’t know anybody but it clicked like that. Maybe because during my career I’ve moved a lot and I know it’s very important to connect with people and talk with the players, especially when you’re a new player, because they don’t know me because I’m from Europe. It was easy because I speak English and some of the experienced players have made me feel at home.”

(Why is MLS the right fit for you at this point in your career?) “Yeah, in a few days I will be 33, but I’m not coming here to retire. I know that the football club has never won MLS, for example, so for me it’s a target, as well. I want to be part of the history of the club. I want to be part of the team when we win the first MLS Cup for the football club.”

(Could you play Saturday if they asked you to?)
“Yes, I’m ready. Just talk to the manager. But he’s starting to know me, and if I can help the team straight from the first game I’m ready.”

(How much easier is it for you now having been with the team for almost a month already?) “Yes, I’ve been here more than three weeks now with the team. Every day I start to know each player, the staff, the manager and even the owner. Yeah, it’s make it easier to be here.”

(How many of these guys speak French with you?) “None. But it’s OK, I’ve been in England for so many years, so it’s all right. I can speak English.”

(Was it weird doing the dance with the guys?) “No, it was funny. That kind of thing is good for the team bonding. … I think if maybe some of the players might’ve been a bit quiet, now they enjoy it. I think that’s good for the spirit and it’s good when you have that kind of connection off the pitch. I think it’ll be much better on the pitch.”

(Do you think your experience in big games will help the young players?) “Yes, from my knowledge, from my career, from the way I’ve played in Europe, especially in England and France, and with my age now — yes of course. I need to help the young players. … When I arrived for example at Liverpool, I was so young. The older players helped me a lot. I think that’s one of the reasons the Seattle Sounders took me, is for my experience and to help the young players. I will do it. I would like to do it.”

(What do you remember about playing with Liverpool in that great comeback in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final?) “What do I remember about that? It was like the celebration with my teammates at the end of the game and in the dressing room. To share that kind of story with the fans was very big. It was something that I’ll never forget.”

(What was halftime like?) “It was like everybody had their heads down in the dressing room. To be honest, it was not nice to be in that dressing room, but the manager found the right words to bring us back, and we did it. We were lucky, as well, but we did it.”

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