SAIDI GETS THUMBS UP FROM TRABELSI

After agreeing terms with the Maasiders Karim Saidi looks set to become a Feyenoord player very soon. Interestingly, it appears that the Tunisian plumped for the Rotterdammers after asking the advice of his compatriot, Ajax defender Hatem Trabelsi. The 21-year-old was excited by the prospect of working under Ruud Gullit, but needed some insider information. ‘Hatem told me that I would be able to develop well at Feyenoord and that it is a good club too,’ affirms Saidi.

Tunesia is hot right now. The country followed up qualification for the 2002 World Cup with a gold medal at the recent African Cup of Nations thanks to Europe-based mainstays like Hatem Trabelsi at Ajax, Mehdi Nafti at Racing Santander and Sélim Benachour at Paris St Germain. Karim Saidi is part of Tunisia’s promising third millennium generation that must be looking to achieve even greater things in the future.

Saidi describes himself as a purebred defender. ‘I’m tall of course, fast, a good header and sharp in a tussle. I’m not aggressive, but I have a good tackle in me. I have a good long ball and quite a good through ball. My biggest quality is my winner’s mentality, I think. I cannot take defeat at all; it bothers me for days. Defeat just isn’t in my vocabulary.’

Those qualities caught the attention of a slew of French and Turkish clubs, but the defender opted for Feyenoord. ‘I have seen the club play often on TV and I was impressed by the supporters. I know players like Ono, Ghaly and Van Persie and I like the way they play in the Netherlands. The most important reason for coming to Rotterdam is the chance to work with Ruud Gullit and to get better. I understood from Hatem Trabelsi that the Eredivisie is a very good place to do that. You can make fast progress here. Trabelsi also told me that Feyenoord is a very good club, with a fanatical crowd and he advised me to come here.’

‘With his good performances for Ajax and the national team Trabelsi has opened the way for us,’ admits Saidi. ‘Hatem has shown that Tunisian footballers can be very successful in Western Europe. Mark Wotte and Ruud Gullit have already explained to me that there is one big difference between the game in Tunisia and at Feyenoord: losing is not an option in Rotterdam. I’m very attracted to that.’

Saidi has already got to know a number of Feyenoord players from close by. ‘I recently played a friendly for Tunisia against Japan with Ono. And I have also played against Hossam Ghaly and Egypt. I’m looking forward to playing with them. I’ll do my utmost to learn the most important Dutch footballing terms as fast as I can. I absolutely want to be a success here, so I hope the move is sorted out soon.’

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