Jetting in from Rome to London for his first event as an official PUMA athlete, Steven N'Zonzi, as he does everywhere he goes, entered the building as a World Champion. Dropping in to reflect on a defining year, the French midfielder sat down with SoccerBible for a quick catch up.

Steven, you’re one of the new boys at PUMA. What made you sign for the brand and did you speak to any of the players that were already at PUMA?

Yeah, I spoke to one, Adil Rami. But the most important thing for me was to feel good in the boots. So when I tried them I was really impressed. They were very comfortable, and I loved the style so that’s the main reason I decided to sign.

How has your life changed since the World Cup?

My football life has obviously changed because it’s a dream to win the World Cup. It’s a dream to even be part of that competition, so to win it is amazing. It was just a great achievement for my football career and I suppose I’ll feel more content about my career one day because of it. But my life? No, it’s still the same, I’m still the same person.

How did you sleep the night before the World Cup Final?

Yeah I managed to sleep. You have the pressure and excitement, but I managed to sleep. The night after I didn’t sleep much! But the night before you’re focussed on what can happen, you stay relaxed and prepare as you normally would. The squad as a whole was very strong mentally.

What about the daytime before the game, were you anxious?

Not that much, because the group was really fun and really easy to live with. You didn’t feel that much pressure. Yeah, we were obviously nervous, who wouldn't be? But we were confident and couldn’t wait to play. It’s a football match, it’s what were good at.


How were you feeling when the manager told you to go and warm up and that you were coming on?

Yeah, I was preparing myself mentally to come on. I didn’t know if I was going to come on but I was already very focussed and ready to come in to the most important game in my career.

When you came on, did it feel like a World Cup Final?

No, personally, I forget everything and focus on doing my job. When you’re outside of it and on the bench, you have that pressure, when you go warm up you start to forget it a little bit and then when you come on the pitch you just focus on trying not to make any mistakes and doing the job for the team.

In the very last minute when you were winning, did you start to think you were close?

Yeah, because it was more than one goal difference. It was three goals, then two. Obviously the last two minutes you’re like “oh my God, we’re going to do it.”

To sit here now and say that you’ve played in a World Cup final, you’ve won the World Cup – how does that feel?

It feels great. It’s amazing. To win the World Cup, it was unbelievable. It’s still difficult to put it into words.

After the final, you made sure N’Golo Kante had a photo with the trophy. Does that define his character, he’s a little shy to take the spotlight?

Yeah I did, it’s just something that happened in the moment, you know. He was one of the main players in that squad, he’s so important and he played such a great tournament. He’s such a good guy. That’s just N’Golo, he’s so happy and polite.


What did you do on the night of the World Cup Final?

Not much. We went back to the hotel to see family. For me, my parents were there, so I didn’t get the chance to drink and celebrate that much. All the families were there with the kids, so it was amazing just to enjoy that time with them and celebrate what we had achieved.

Who had the most celebratory champagne?

I don’t even know! Because like I said we were all together, so many people were there to celebrate with us, so I didn’t pay attention to who had the most champagne. Everybody was just having a great time.

Safe answer. You only made your debut for France in 2017. Did you think the chance had gone to play for the national team?

No, I kept on doing my job, trying to improve. I knew that the French national team has a lot of competition, because there’s a lot of players in each position, every position. I was just focused on doing my thing and I was grateful when I did get called up.

You joined up with the team that had just lost the Euro 2016 final. Could you tell when you met up that they were more determined to win in Russia?

Yeah you could tell. I don’t know if it’s because they lost the Euro final, but you could tell that they were really determined and obviously they didn’t want to lose another final. They were motivated and it was a positive environment to walk into.


You obviously played in England for a few years. Is there anything you miss about being here?

Yeah, the life in England was great, I loved it. Except the weather. But when you’re here you get used to it and you don’t really pay attention to the weather. I had six years here and it was a great time and an important spell in my career.

Is it true that you looked at the possibility of playing for England?

[Laughs] No! I’ve been asked this before. It was never possible.

You’ve played in France, England, Spain and Italy. When you finish playing, do you have somewhere you want to live?

Yeah, I think I will live in Paris. All my family is in Paris, so I think I’ll just go back there. I love that city.

Not Blackburn?

[Laughs] Probably not...

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