Bayer Leverkusen summer signing Odilon Kossounou is enjoying getting to grips with the Bundesliga, and cannot wait to face Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski head-on. spoke to the Ivorian defender during the September international break… How important was the win against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 2? It was your first Bundesliga win…

Odilon Kossounou: “In my opinion, it was a very important victory. It’s important to get off to a good start in order to pick up the maximum number of points.” You became a regular starter as soon as you arrived at the club. Did that surprise you?

Kossounou: “I wouldn’t say that I was surprised. Every player comes to the club with the intention of playing. So I was mentally prepared for that. And I knew that they needed me to play. So I prepared as one must – with the aim of immediately integrating within the team. And so that I could give my all to ensure that everything started well.” What sets you apart as a player?

Kossounou: “I’m physically strong, I’m quick and I’m able to anticipate what is going to happen. I’m also good with my head.” How have you enjoyed playing in the Bundesliga in the short time that you’ve been here so far?

Kossounou: “The Bundesliga is a great league. It’s a great league. I’ve followed the Bundesliga for a long time and have watched matches for a long time. The level of football here is very high. It also represents a good step in my development. In my opinion, it’s a good league and one where I can develop well.” Were you surprised at all to hear that Leverkusen wanted you before they signed you this summer?

Kossounou: “I wasn’t surprised because they had been interested in me for a long time. As soon as contact was initiated, I signalled my intention to join the club.” You came through Asec Mimosa, the most famous academy in the Ivory Coast. Yaya Toure, Gervinho, Emmanuel Eboue all graduated from there, too. Do you hope to have a similarly successful career?

Kossounou: “They’re big players, who achieved a lot in their careers. It’s truly an honour to have followed players of this calibre. But I continue to work hard every day in order to try to emulate them and go as far as possible myself.” Please tell us about your journey to Leverkusen – how difficult was it getting to the Bundesliga?

Kossounou: “I started at a Centre de Formation in a small village near Abidjan. At the age of 13, I joined ASEC Mimosas. I was there for five years and worked extremely hard – like everyone did there. When you join an academy, it’s a very proud moment for your family.

I was integrated into the first team at Mimosas, at the age of 16, if I’m not mistaken. I wasn’t able to play many matches but I trained hard. But there was a tournament, the Gothia Cup, in Sweden, where I was scouted by Hammarby IF. I spent three months in Sweden, then three months back in Abidjan, and at the age of 18, I signed a professional contract with them.

I played for them for five months and then in January, I left for Belgium to join Club Brugge. I spent two seasons there, but for one of the seasons, we only played 15 matches. It was a little bit complicated because I spent just five months in Sweden and then moved to Belgium. There was one season of adaptation. But in the second season, I played a lot of matches. Last season was fantastic. And then I joined Bayer Leverkusen.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here