In the second part of our readers' Q&A with Aly Cissokho, the Olympique Lyonnais defender looks back on his time with FC Porto, sings the praises of Steven Gerrard and discusses his new-found fame.
If Lyon were to come up against FC Porto in the Champions League which player would you like to swap jerseys with and why?
Márcio Abel, 20, Porto
Cissokho: I'd like all the Porto jerseys: I absolutely loved my time there. If I could have a collection of them all, that would remind me of all the great times. But if I had to choose one, I'd swap with Jorge Fucile, the Uruguayan defender who helped me settle. We've remained very close. Let me take the opportunity raised by your question to publicly thank Porto for allowing me to make a name on the European scene.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
Declan Harte, 19, County Mayo, Ireland
Cissokho: Steven Gerrard. He is the epitome of pace and power. Obviously we don't play in the same position, but he is a great example. He never ever gives up and for that alone he is a great example to all. Personally, he is an inspiration because of his quickness and strength.
What has Lyon coach Claude Puel taught you or said about your game that is different to other coaches?
Fred Skinner, Melbourne, Australia
Cissokho: Claude Puel has given me a tactical base by giving me constant advice on how to position myself and take more risks. These are new things for me. He has also taught me to coordinate my moves and runs better, and puts a lot of emphasis on the physical side of training to improve stamina. Mine has certainly got better!
Which of your new team-mates do you get on best with away from the pitch?
Paul Alberole, Avignon, France
Cissokho: Lisandro, Bafé Gomis and Delgado. I like Lisandro a lot – not only has he shared the same hotel as me, but we can also speak Portuguese, which is great.
Has it been difficult adapting from the South American-influenced Portuguese football to the French style of football?
David Da Costa, 23, South Africa
Cissokho: No, adapting to the French league hasn't been too difficult. It's true there are some aspects specific to the Liga but top football tends to be the same in all major leagues in the sense that the technical and physical requirements are high. Also, Lyon have themselves been influenced by South American football, especially the Brazilian style. Sonny Anderson [now coaching the forwards at Lyon] certainly made his mark, as have other Brazilians.
What memories will you keep with you from your time in Portugal?
Cissokho: There are lots because I've also got many memories of Vitória Setubal. But I'd single out one, in particular – the league title we won at Porto. And then, there's the Champions League tie against Manchester United. Man U was the team I supported as a child, the team I always picked on my PlayStation, and here I was, playing against them.
Do you feel you have more chance with Lyon to get closer to the Champions League final than you did with Porto?
Duarte Rocha, Lisbon Portugal
The atmosphere within the Lyon camp is good, the quality is there. Olympique Lyonnais can surely go as far as Porto last season, and maybe further.
As a kid, did anyone ever tell you you weren't good enough to be at the level you are now? And what would be your advice to someone like me who wants to play at the highest level?
Rien, 16, Australia
Cissokho: A lot of people doubted my ability. But to be fair to them all, no one could have expected me to be playing in Champions League games a year or so after leaving Gueugnon [then in Ligue 2]. My advice to you and to all youngsters? Never give up! Success will come. If you don't reach the very top, at least you'll have given your utmost, as I've always tried to do.
A year ago no one had heard of you and now you are near to being called up to the French team. How does it feel?
Jerdino Aires, Maputo, Mozambique
Cissokho: All players like to be talked about. That means their work has been recognised. You have to adjust, though, because it becomes a daily pressure. You have to be careful of what you say. I now have an image to protect and to defend and I can't do anything I please.
How much has your life changed over the last year? What are the positives and what are the negatives behind your sudden success?
Frank Gee, Nebraska, US
Cissokho: I have had to adjust to the media attention. The positives and negatives are this: when journalists and reporters target you, all of a sudden you have to be open and discreet at the same time. I admit I've been talkative, especially at Porto where I let my guard down a few times. I wasn't used to this kind of attention and I never said no to any reporter. I think I've changed quite a bit: I'm still natural and open but I am much more careful about who I speak to. Since I arrived at Olympique Lyonnais, I've given only two major interviews: one to France Football magazine and the other one to uefa.com.
To read the first part of this interview, click here.
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