He is everywhere, all the time. This season, Adrien Tameze has played 31 games (20 starts, 11 appearances) for Hellas Verona in Serie A without missing a single one. And the midfielder, who averages a good dozen kilometers per game, is also the second best ball retriever in his team. Igor Tudor, his trainer since last September, quickly made it his Swiss army knife. The former Niçois has thus evolved in almost all positions from the middle. What alters its performance? Certainly not.
With an average of 6.41/10 in the gradebook of The Gazzetta dello Sport, he is one of the best players in Serie A in his position. His adaptability, his volume of play, his slaughter, his races, his technique: everyone is seduced by the Franco-Cameroonian, who is already announced in the sights of Napoli for the next summer transfer window. At 28, Tameze is having a blast like never before in Italy.
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Four goals, two assists and no missed games… At 28, are you currently playing the best season of your career?
AT: Yes. I feel that I have progressed in a lot of areas. And it’s true that I also had to evolve in terms of statistics. This year, I scored a few goals in addition to providing assists. I’m happy to be at this level today.
In Verona, the daily « L’Arena » recently described you as a « stakhanovist of quality ». It’s flattering, isn’t it?
AT: It’s obviously very pleasing. When you do great things and people realize it, it’s fun. This means that I am working well, that I am progressing. This is the most important for me.
You cover 12 kilometers per game and you are the second best ball retriever on your team…
AT: We have a style of play that requires us to do a lot of kilometres, we train a lot for that. This is also what makes us achieve such a season.
Does one of your secrets lie precisely in the intensity of the training sessions you have been doing since your arrival in Italy?
A. T: If we don’t train at the pace we play at the weekend, we wouldn’t be able to play matches this way. We run a lot, we do a lot of pressing… We have a particular style of play. We have to train with intensity during the week, it’s important. That’s what makes the difference.
French players who discover Serie A often point out a lot of differences with Ligue 1.
AT: It’s the same thing on my side, we often talk about it with the other French players. There are many aspects that differ from those we have seen in France, especially the tactical one. It’s a combination of things that makes us work well in Italy.
Can you tell us about a classic training session in Italy?
AT: We do a lot of physical work without the ball, with « dry » races. But we also work on possession, the game, with and without tactics. We do very complete sessions throughout the week, where we can find a mix of everything to get to the match. It’s a lot of work.
Serie A, a championship that I love
In which areas have you made the most progress?
AT: I want to say concentration. Before, I missed it a bit. I could play a great game for 90 minutes and make a mistake in the 91st. I’m not saying that I don’t do any more today, but still much less. I know that I have progressed enormously at this level.
In just over two years, you have been trained by Gian Piero Gasperini and Ivan Juric, considered his « student ». Can you describe them to us?
AT: I’ve always had great coaches. But it’s true that when you arrived in Italy, having this style of coach changed a lot of things. Gasperini, for example, had just been elected coach of the year in Serie A. Gasperini, Juric… I was lucky to be able to evolve under their orders, I learned a lot with them. Today it’s the same with Tudor here.
It must be said that he has been performing miracles since his arrival on the Hellas bench last September …
AT: He’s a sharp coach, like all coaches in Italy. He is very close to his players. Me, what I like is what he brought me on the mental aspect. With him, we all became stronger. Even when we slow down a bit, he always manages to find the trick so that we still draw on our resources. I think it’s exceptional to be able to do that. He has a voice that carries on the bench, he always tells you: « But yes, you can do it, go! ». If I think back to the goals I scored, it was often at the end of the match… It’s not trivial. This strength, it comes from him.
The Italian press often highlights your great ability to adapt to any position, from midfield to a more advanced position, but do you have a preference?
AT: I still prefer to play in the middle. Afterwards, discovering other positions also makes my game evolve, even if it’s not always easy to adapt. But when we have injuries or absences, the coach tells me: « I need you in this position » and I do it without any problem. I am someone who likes tactics and I have always been interested in all positions. Our style of play also helps me, since we are often one-on-one. In the end, my match is based on my direct opponent.
« If I can play all the matches… »
You arrived in Italy in a complicated period for the country (at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, editor’s note), was it not too difficult?
AT: Above all, it’s a country and a championship that I loved. And that I still love. I feel fulfilled here and I continue to learn things. I am happy.
What can you tell us about your teammates Antonin Barak and Giovanni Simeone, who also had a great season with Hellas?
AT: They are really « top » players and « top » guys, in addition to great professionals. They train tirelessly every day, just like our team. They know how to pull us up when necessary, it’s very high level.
You are seven points behind Lazio, 6th and provisionally qualified for the Europa League Conference. Is it too late to aim for a qualification in Europe?
AT: I would like us to finish as high as possible. Afterwards, Serie A is a homogeneous, very tight and very complicated championship. Whether for scudetto, relegation or places in Europe. It’s hard to know where a team can end up.
And on a personal level, how do you hope to end the season? So far, you haven’t missed any matches…
AT: I would like to finish it even better, even if there are not many matches left. We will continue to work to finish well. If I can play all the games, I will do it with great pleasure (laughs). With this mentality of always having to give more without ever giving up, it pushes me to continue on this path.
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