James Rowe spoke to Grenoble Foot 38’s Belgian midfielder Ryan Sanusi exclusively for WFi. They discussed the challenges of playing in Ligue 2, and his time in the Netherlands with Willem II and Sparta Rotterdam.
You signed for Grenoble Foot 38 back in the summer How are you enjoying your time at the club so far and how would you describe the club?
I am really enjoying my time at the club so far. I arrived here at the start of the season and we have a great squad of players and the club was recently promoted from the 3rd division in France to Ligue 2.
We have a really close squad and my teammates have treated me really well. I have adapted well and I feel at home.
It helps that I can speak French in order to integrate with the squad.
I am playing matches regularly and that is something which is also very positive.
Grenoble Foot 38 is not a really big club, although they have played in Ligue 1 as well as Ligue 2 through the years.
I must say that the club and the backroom staff are really driven and they are friendly and open, which is great when you come from abroad and arrive at a new club.
Sanusi : “L’équipe se sent bien”
— Grenoble Foot 38 (@GF38_Officiel) December 13, 2018
What is your opinion of the current level of Ligue 2 in France. Are there any teams that stand out for you?
I would say that I am pleasantly surprised by the level in Ligue 2 because before I arrived here I had no idea about what to expect, although I knew that there were many African players in France and that the leagues are physically strong.
I also know that Ligue 2 consisted of many teams that have recently played in Ligue 1, such as FC Metz , RC Lens, and Sochaux.
I believe that Ligue 2 is really competitive and everybody can beat everybody. There are also many teams that want to play good football.
There are teams that stand out such Metz, Lens and Lorient. At the moment we are currently fourth with the same number of points as Lens, so I can’t complain.
I would like to ask you about your time in the Netherlands. You played for Willem II. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights?
I arrived at Willem II when I was 18 years old and I started out in the youth teams and I went on to train with the first team.
I managed to made my debut for the club quite quickly and play many matches in the first half of the season. After the winter break the manager selected other players and I did not play much.
We managed to gain promotion to the Eredivisie, although I was not selected by the manager at the start of the season and that can happen in football.
I was subsequently injured and loaned out to TOP Oss in Dutch first division, and from there I managed to secure a transfer to Sparta Rotterdam.
That brings me nicely on to my next question! You played many matches for Sparta Rotterdam. How do you look back on your time there and are there particular matches that have stayed with you?
I believe that my time at Sparta Rotterdam is the best period in my career so far.
First and foremost I felt at home in the city of Rotterdam and we had a good manager in Alex Pastoor.
We did not really have ideas of going for the Dutch first division title, but we managed to put a title winning run together and we only lost one match on the way to the title, and that was after we were crowned champions.
My highlight was winning the Dutch first division with the club and being part of a good team.
In the Eredivisie we played some great matches beating Feyenoord at home in the season they won the title, and I feel personally that I played well against Ajax and PSV Eindhoven.
My time at Sparta Rotterdam was fantastic. I only regret leaving the club after we suffered relegation from the Eredivisie, but these things happen in football.
You have had a fine career so far. Are there players that you have played alongside which have stood out?
I must say that I have not played with many players that were head and shoulders above, but I have played with young players that have gone on to develop really well and make progress in their career.
Denzel Dumfries, who is now playing really well at PSV Eindhoven, and who has recently become an international. He is also a very good friend of mine.
It’s great to have played with such players and to see them doing so well.
I can imagine in your position as a midfielder that you have come up against many good players. Are there opponents that you have faced that have been particularly good?
In terms of opponents if I was to name one. I would say Hakim Ziyech of Ajax.
He is a player that really stood out when I came up against him during my time with Sparta Rotterdam in the Eredivisie.
Finally Ryan you have already spoken about Alex Pastoor at Sparta Rotterdam. Are there other managers that have been influential to you in terms of your development as a professional footballer?
I do not believe that a manager can help you at a professional level. I believe that a manager can give you a chance to play in a certain system in order to get the best out of you as a player.
I have not had a manager in my professional career that has told me specific things in order to improve.
Although that did happen to me at youth level when I was shaping my game in Belgium at Beerschot AC.
I had a manager in Marc Noe who has been the biggest influence on my game so far in my career.