Aurelien Norest: From France to Scandinavia via Iceland

I would like to ask you about your journey to becoming a professional footballer. How did your journey to becoming a professional footballer start?

It started in the suburb of Paris, France in a small club called Saint Ouen L’aumone which at that time was a very well known club for youth players. It was the second best team after Paris Saint Germain in the region.

Between the ages of eight to ten years old we would regularly beat Paris Saint Germain and we had a very good team and I started out at the club at the age of five and I stated at the club all the way until 18 years old and in between I was very unlucky in terms of having a growth issue with my heal at the age of 13 years old and I managed to come back and the issue had spread to my knee and I had to stop playing football for another ten months.

That was at the time where I was actually followed by some good youth academies in France such as FC Lorient, PSG and LOSC Lille so it was quite a tough time for me. When I returned from those setbacks I did not see football the same way. I was just seeing it as a hobby and I was not really hoping anything anymore with football. I was a bit disgusted and I like the game of football but I was not really motivated anymore thinking about a professional career.

I then left France to go to the United States to study Business at the MidAmerica Nazarene University in Kansas and my parents always made sure that school came first. If school was not being followed there was not football, it was as simple as that and I had to make it happen and that is why I always made sure that my school was on point and when I was 17 years old I got selected for the NIKE Academy in England.

I was among the last 40 French players and I made it to the last 25 players and unfortunately not to the last six French players who made it to the NIKE Academy but the event at the NIKE Academy allowed me to be contacted by an agency who were sending players to American Universities. I also spent time playing in the CFA ( French Division ) when I was 17 years old and that was a good experience although I know how it is in France which is similar to England where there are a lot of very good players for so few positions.

You mentioned receiving interests from the likes of FC Lorient, PSG and LOSC Lille. When you were younger were there any particular players that you looked at that you wanted to emulate or that you saw as an example?

I am going to be very honest with you James. I was not a big footballer watcher. I remember playing a tournament at the Parc de Princes when I was younger so PSG was my team from the beginning because I was from the suburb of Paris and at the time PSG had Ronaldinho etc.

I have always been a very defensive minded person on the pitch and I have always liked players such as Gabriel Heinze, Fabio Cannavaro who were not trying to score goals but doing the opposite in not letting the opposing team score a goal against them. such a thing really attracts me and I always more attracted in seeing a very good tackle than a good goal.

You played two seasons in Iceland for Vestri. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

Yes, Vestri was a great experience and Iceland is a beautiful environment and I was playing for a small team in the North Fjord of Iceland so first of all the pitch was incredible, the view from the pitch and from the fans in the stands which would look out onto the water, to the mountains and when there was snow it was very picturesque and a beautiful environment to play in. The club made me feel very welcome and I am still in contact with the Sporting Director and he asks me about certain players.

Vestri is a nice club unfortunately as everybody knows Iceland is a small country so after a quick amount of time going around the country you get the feeling that everybody knows each other and almost everybody knows you where there is not much privacy but I liked my experience but I decided to move on ”

You also played two seasons for Umeå FC in Sweden. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

I had a very good time in Sweden. I was also made to feel very welcome by the club and I had two good seasons there. The only thing is that I have always been a centre back in my career and the club decided to play me in defensive midfield and I adapted and the second season I went back to centre back.

I was also made captain of the team and we won promotion I then had a bit of a disagreement as to how the team was managed and I am a person that I need to receive your respect 100 percent in order for me to give my 100 percent and if I do not feel that I am respected in that way that I respect someone then it is difficult for me to give the best of myself. Of course I will but in my mind it will maybe a bit contradictory so I decided to leave the club and look for a new opportunity.

Finally Aurelin. Looking ahead to the future you are still very young. What do you think the future holds and is there anything ideally that you would like to achieve in the remainder of your footballer career?

In terms of being a football player at the moment I am at a crossroads and facing two paths which are either still building my resume. I am still young as a human but I am not so young anymore as a football player but I consider that I have two more years until becoming 30 years old. So either for two more years I try to keep building my resume as I started professional football a little bit late due to going to University and starting from scratch.

Or I just decide to play football to just make some money and just look at taking the best contract no matter what team or division it is. At the moment I want to keep improving my resume but if there is nothing that comes of that I will decide to go the other way in order to truthfully put some money aside for the future so that I can start something. I have a master in Business from MidAmerica Nazarene University.

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