Brice Dja Djedje: “At Watford I am treated like an animal.”

Left off of Watford’s list of players eligible for the Premier League for a second season running, the right back lashed out at his club, and expressed his lack of understanding in an exclusive interview with L’Équipe.

Brice Dja Djédjé left Marseille for Watford just over a year ago. But the right back, who was essential to Bielsa’s system in Marseille, has still not not played the least Premier League game with the Hornets, who spent four million euros to recruit him. Once again excluded from the list of players eligible for the league, the Ivorian international (26 years old) decided to express his frustration on a situation which he can not deal with anymore.

For the second season in a row, your club Watford, did not include you in the list of players eligible for the league. Did you expect it?

Honestly, no. I do not understand it at all. They have made their choice, but it pains me because I can not fulfill my line of work. It is starting to become unbearable.

How did you find out about it?

I met up with the national team towards the end of August. I was in training and, upon my return to the locker room, I saw that my father tried to call me multiple times. Then, I saw a text message from him, which broke the bad news. I was stunned, devastated. But there is one real problem in all of this, and that is that I learned it in the media. It is unbelievable. There are certain boundaries… It gets to a point where you can not keep quiet anymore. I am being treated like an animal!

Was this ever explained?

Not at all. It was the same during the first year. Before signing me, they knew that I had injured my foot with the national team. But Walter Mazzarri, last season’s coach, really wanted me to sign for Watford. He told me about how he wanted the team to play, and how he planned to use me. But most importantly, he knew very well that I was injured because we even spoke about it. The Marseille doctor even gave instructions to the Watford one, but they wanted me to come back earlier, which aggravated my injury.

So the current situation is in relation to an injury.

I have no idea, and I have no idea who took this decision. I am under the impression that certain people are trying to avoid their responsibilities. Is it the coach? Is it from above? I have never let go. I trained everyday with the first team, and I also often came with my personal trainer to be in top shape.

There is no turning back?

 No, because the lists were released right after the transfer window! The clubs actually update them halfway through the season. In January, I was already meant to be on it. But the second choice goalkeeper (Costel Pantilimon) injured himself for three weeks and the club decided to promote a fourth goalkeeper instead of me, even though I was fit. It is beyond me! 

Did you really not feel this decision coming?

No. I resumed training by myself as early as mid-June to prepare myself, so that I would not miss another year. My career was in the balance. I went to see the sporting director in July so that he could clearly explain things to me, so I asked, “Do you still depend on me? Because otherwise, I have to find a solution.” He responded saying that the coach was satisfied with me, that I was working hard, and that I had come back well. So I joined their summer preparation and played the friendly games, but I could already feel that something was off.

What do you mean?

Small details. You oppose something and you are still considered one of the “others”, one of the substitutes. I had one conversation with the coach Marco Silva. I told him to not treat me like a child. I have been in this line of work for a while now. I know what the signs look like. But he assured me that his decision was final.

Since then, have you tried to meet with the coach?

In early September, one of the staff members sent me a text message saying that the coach wanted to speak. I responded nicely and politely saying that I wanted to focus on my work to avoid anything getting distorted, especially seeing as English is not my strongest language. Plus, what good would it have served? 

How are you dealing with the situation?

I am not happy. Having to train during the week, to just sit on my sofa during the weekend is horrible. It is not because I get a monthly salary that I should just accept this. Otherwise, that would mean that I really do not care. It has been two years since I have been prevented from doing the job that I love, without any explanation. I can not go on like this. Everyone has been asking why I have not played, thinking that it is because of an injury, when in reality, that is completely false. 

He has also said that you are not beyond reproach in your implication?

I heard that, yes. Do you really think that a slacker trains two times more than the others every week? That he gets up everyday to train with the reserves while the others are resting? I also went to play games with the youth teams, doing long hours on the road, without ever saying anything. They need to cut the excuses. I am still the player I am from Marseille. And, on the contrary, these experiences have made me stronger.

What are your options then?

I have to leave. Either on loan or permanently. I want to rediscover my hunger for competition. I have been ready since last December, and I can not wait anymore. The craziest in all of this, is that that clubs made offers to Watford to loan me, but the club refused them.


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