ISTRA, Russia (Reuters) - France defender Adil Rami is reveling in his role as team joker even though he has had no playing time at the World Cup in Russia.
Rami believes he still has a vital role to play although he is unlikely to line up against Uruguay in Friday’s quarter-final in Nizhny Novgorod.
“My role is to try to bring positive waves to the team. I also bring my qualities, my character, my mental strength,” he told a news conference at the French training base outside of Moscow on Wednesday.
“I try to make youngsters in the squad understand that talent is not enough and that we will need to be ready to suffer and to fight.”
The 32-year-old is one of just three players in the 23-man squad yet to be fielded in the tournament by coach Didier Deschamps.
“For a defender, it’s always difficult to break into the team, especially if the defense is doing well,” he said.
“But I’m fine, I’m not frustrated, I see the positive of my situation. In a country of 66-million people, I am one of 23 selected to go to the World Cup.
“It’s a great opportunity and before every game, I hope with all my heart that Raph (Varane) and Sam (Umtiti) do not have any problems.
“It’s no matter if I don’t get any playing time. If we go through to the end of the tournament, I will be as delighted as the others. I do not have to be moody.”
Rami said team spirit was high as France prepared to travel to the match venue.
“I have rarely liked a bunch of players as much. I worry about saying that because there could be a boomerang if we lose.
“What is great about this squad is that there are experienced players as well as very young players. Yet there are no clans. We all get along with each other. The older ones joke with the youngsters. There is respect but no barriers,” he added.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Nizhny Novgorod; Editing by Christian Radnedge