He might not have been the biggest success during his time at West Ham, but Julien Faubert will always remember it.
The winger, who also ended up playing at right-back, even managed to get himself a loan to Real Madrid at one point, as well as getting picked by Raymond Domenech to play for France.
Scoring a goal in his friendly debut for his country when he was still at Bordeaux, Faubert’s career looked like it was going to go in the ideal direction, including a transfer to Upton Park, where West Ham were opening the doors of the Premier League to him.
However, it’s that move to the Hammers that also halted his rise at international level, as he explained to to L’Equipe in an interview on Friday.
The newspaper state that when he signed for West Ham, his relationship with Raymond Domenech deteriorated.
Faubert explained: “He said I was leaving for the money. In the enthusiasm of my youth, I hadn’t called him before signing. I never had contact with him after that. He didn’t understand that, truly, my dream since I was a kid was to play in England”.
The player also explained what exactly happened regarding his rather surprising move to Real Madrid.
He said: “It was right at the end of the transfer window and West Ham wanted me to go. We had a game against Fulham. Just before that, I got a call from a so-called representative from Real Madrid who spoke French. I hung up, I didn’t take him seriously at all. At the end of the game, I had 40,000 messages from my agent: ‘Call me back, it’s urgent’.
“He explained to me that Real’s delegation was arriving in London. I go, the negotiations take ages: when West Ham hear the name of the club, they ask for a loan with a fee. It has to be 10.30pm when the guy from Real Madrid starts typing out the contract, with his boss over his shoulder: ‘Vamos, vamos!’.
“The next day, I take a private jet to Madrid. The medical takes all day, then presentation in front of the fans. You need to do keepy-uppies. The pressure is there. It’s embarrassing if you mess up. Press conference with the legend (Alfredo) Di Stefano, then the director of football, Pedrag Mijatovic, hugs me and says ‘Welcome to the Casa Blanca’.”
Faubert explains that from that point onwards, he entered a ‘different world’, where everything is ‘twice as big, better organised and harder on the pitch’.
He said the club brought him in because they needed a backup for Arjen Robben, but the Dutchman, normally prone to injuries, rarely missed a game, limiting his appearances to two.
Despite barely playing, Faubert said he ‘progressed a lot there’, and he started ‘flying’ physically and technically when he returned to West Ham thanks to his loan in Madrid.