"For a player, the Europa League is the ideal stage to showcase yourself," said KRC Genk midfielder Fabien Camus earlier this season, and he has done just that with four assists in the group stage.
Level with FC Rubin Kazan's Bebras Natcho as the competition's top provider this term, the 28-year-old has had a disappointing few days with his Tunisia side losing out to Cameroon in the play-offs for a FIFA World Cup place. However, he has plenty to look forward to with his club, who can confirm their place in the round of 32 for the second season in succession if they get the better of FC Dynamo Kyiv in Group G on Thursday.
Born in Arles, Camus started his career in France with Olympique de Marseille, but it took a move to Belgium to get regular football at R. Charleroi SC. A switch to Genk in 2009 promised much but a lack of first-team opportunities prompted him to spend the 2012/13 season back in France, on loan at ES Troyes AC. This summer, he found himself at something of a junction in his career, but chose to head back to Genk.
"Four clubs from Ligue 1 and two Italian Serie A clubs were very interested in me, but after a talk with Genk technical manager Gunther Jacob – who even said I was the missing link in the team – I was persuaded to stay," Camus explained. "And when Genk then gave me a terrific contract offer until the summer of 2017, the deal was done."
Coach Mario Been is certainly getting the best out of Camus, who can play centrally or out on the left. "Left or centre, my favourite place is ON the pitch," Camus emphasised. "The link-up with Julien Gorius is also going very well, so it is no surprise that we are good friends off the pitch too. After a few good appearances as a substitute, I have been given the chance to start. That is so positive. I have a coach who understands me."
There could be a reason for that. Known during his time as an attacking midfielder in the Netherlands as 'Pietje Bell' – in honour of the impish Dutch children's book character of the same name – Been was as frustrating to some of his coaches as Camus once was to him. "I had a kind of love-hate relation with Camus in the beginning," the 49-year-old admitted.
"In pure footballing terms, he had nothing to prove to me – I knew how good he is in possession and that he can turn games, but sometimes a team does not have the ball. And I worked on that with Fabien, with mixed results to start with, but as an incoming substitute at the start of the season he proved that he had understood. Maybe I see myself in him. I always preferred to have the ball than to be chasing opponents, but that's part of football too."