Dubai: Yohan Cabaye admits his France career is behind him after joining Arabian Gulf League (AGL) side Al Nasr on a free transfer from Premier League club Crystal Palace over the summer.
The 32-year-old former Newcastle United midfielder scored four goals in 48 appearances for Les Bleus between 2010 and 2016, featuring in Euro 2012, 2016, and World Cup 2014.
Despite being part of Didier Deschamps’ side that finished second at Euro 2016, he wasn’t named in their 2018 World Cup-winning squad this summer.
“They won the World Cup with a young team and it’s been a while since I’ve been called up, so to be realistic that’s something that’s behind me now,” he told Gulf News.
“I’m really happy they won the World Cup, I’m proud of the team and proud to be French, but I’ve had my time in the national team and I’m really proud of what I’ve done with France.”
Asked if he could have stayed in the Premier League, where he played 34 matches for Crystal Palace last season, racking up 2,578 minutes, he replied: “I left that, so for me I’m here now and I’m really enjoying it. My family is also, and that’s the main thing. So long as my family is happy, I’m happy.
“I just want to enjoy my football anywhere I am. I keep following the Premier League and French football because for me football is life, but now I try to enjoy the football here and try to help bring all my experience for the team and its young players.
“I also want to return the confidence I have had from the board because they have welcomed me really well and I just want to give them back what they have given to me from the beginning.
“This is a good opportunity for me to write a new chapter in my life and career. I’m excited about the league, Al Nasr is a big club in Dubai and the UAE, so I’ll try to do my best to help my teammates and hopefully try to win something in the end, because that’s why we play.”
His mission didn’t set off as planned as Al Nasr lost their AGL opener 1-0 at home to Ajman on Thursday, but the Frenchman remains resolute.
“It was a hard start for me with my new club, but we need to keep our heads up and keep working hard because we have good quality in the team and we have to show that on the pitch.
“We need to carry on, get back to work to be ready for the next game,” he added of the Blue Wave’s Arabian Gulf Cup opener at home to Emirates on Wednesday.
“The season is long, so we need to stick together and look forward, because as I said, the quality is here now and we have to share that on the pitch and play for each other.”
He pointed to Deschamps as one of the best examples of battling on. Despite having lost the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal and suffering a media backlash to dropping Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, the coach went on to win the 2018 World Cup, 20 years after he had lifted it as the team’s captain in 1998.
“It was difficult of course, but Deschamps is someone who will never give up, it’s his mentality and I think he showed to the world what he’s capable of because he knows how to build a team and how to build a character to go through the competition, and that’s what he did. Fortunately for the French they went through to the final and won it, now we are all proud of what they’ve done and we are proud to be French.”
World Champions France play Germany in their Uefa Nations League opener in Munich on Thursday.