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Seko Fofana on choosing Lens over Atalanta: “I went with my heart, I have no regrets.”

Speaking to L’Équipe ahead of his team’s Derby du Nord clash against Lille this afternoon, Ivorian midfielder Seko Fofana discussed his decision to leave Serie A for Lens in the summer of 2020, and the effect his return to France has had on his career.

The 26-year-old left Serie A last year after a four-year spell at Udinese, joining the promoted side despite interest from Atalanta. Fofana was part of a Lens team that impressed throughout the season, narrowly missing out on a European spot in 7th place.

“Not everyone understood the choice, but with what we showed last year, I’m happy with the results. I thought about it for a long time, I imagined myself here and not anywhere else. I saw myself in the club’s project and was persuaded that by working together, with a good mentality, we would get some good results. I like to take on impossible challenges, I don’t regret it.”

“I had actually watched Lens games before. My best friend, Arsène Elogo, played at Grenoble and I watched his match against Lens. There was a big crowd, a great atmosphere, and I really enjoyed it. I sometimes followed some of their games, I knew Lens well.”

“After my season in Italy, I wanted and needed to go back to France. With Covid-19 I was away from my family for a long time, from my friends as well, it’s a situation that can scare you. When I saw that Lens were interested in me, I saw they were serious and from then I could only see myself there, nowhere else. Atalanta were inches away from finding an agreement with Udinese, but it was pointless because my head was already here. I went with my heart, now I have no regrets.”

“It’s a return to the simple things, here you know everyone at the club. I had to rediscover the feeling of being in a team that has a laugh. You see real people, there’s a warmth to it, it’s incredible.”

“I heard a lot of negatives things. Since then, a lot of people have changed their views – I just laugh, smile and they understand. I needed to come here, I had a challenge to take up. It would have been easier to go to Atalanta than to bring this club back up. Two or three years back I wouldn’t have made the choice to go to to Lens – I would have told my agents, “Are you serious?””

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