"With the new rules, anyone can be favourites," says Lyon forward Memphis Depay as he prepares for a trip to Turin.
Article top media content
Back on his feet after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in December, Lyon forward Memphis Depay is delighted to have another chance to prove himself in the UEFA Champions League.
The 26-year-old was stopped in his tracks during a Ligue 1 game, having scored five goals in five group stage matches in the autumn. Now he has a chance to steer his side towards this season’s final tournament in Lisbon. “I am ready,” the Dutchman says.
On recovering from a cruciate injury suffered in December
I’ve played ten years of professional football from the age of 16, but this was new. I wasn’t used to it. I was silent for a few days. But after the surgery, I fully started with my recovery. I decided not to watch games because that was too difficult for me. If you love something so much and you can’t do it, it’s difficult. I was playing well, there were many great games to come and I was captain for the first time. But I came out of it well.
I focused on other things. At the age of 25, I published my book. I write music so I could focus on music. But I had to train twice a day, I was busy every day with that knee. I fought back. After 200 days, I was able to play my first match again. I was ready for the EURO and would definitely have made it.
On the Juventus match
[Lyon’s 1-0 win in the first leg] was the first match I watched [after injury], and I saw a team spirit that made me so very happy. Juve weren’t playing well. But now, months later, the situation is totally different. They have now played more matches than we have, so many aspects are now completely different to normal. But that has allowed me to be able to play in the Champions League. I am ready. That’s all I’ve got to say about it really.
With the new rules, anyone can be favourites. Because you know there are only one-off games. And Juventus have some very experienced players when it comes to playing finals. We, on the contrary, have a lot of young players who don’t have much experience with the pressure of playing in finals and the Champions League. We’ll just have to see. I do know that we have a very eager team and that we are definitely not afraid.
What would it be like to reach the final tournament? Very important. After such a difficult time when we were all apart, we have regrouped again for such a short period to play such an important match away. But let’s not get ahead of things. We first have to have our house in order, get a good result in Turin. It would really be a statement if we were to get through to the next round.
On leaving Manchester United for Lyon in 2017
I went [to Old Trafford] as a 21-year-old young man, and it was for a short time. A year and a half later, I left. I had a hard time there, which allowed me to cope when I came here and I could rebuild. Everybody expected my time at Manchester United to be better, myself included. I could have stayed at Manchester United and said that I played for one of the biggest clubs in the world. But I was a substitute and that’s not my ambition.
I saw the potential [in Lyon] and believed in the club. It was a step backwards with the idea of taking ten steps forwards after. I’ve played many games and developed. I’m the captain now and I’m important for the team, at just 26. It’s going like I hoped it would.