Sofian Kiyine chose OHL over Lazio: “After eight years in Italy, I needed my family”

It was a remarkable transfer last summer. A player with 56 matches in the Serie A on his counter, suddenly landed at OH Leuven. Sofian Kiyine, born in Verviers, signed to Den Dreef for four seasons. He needed some break-in time, but in the meantime he is doing well. Except maybe Tuesday in Eupen, where he was one of the worst victims of the food poisoning that severely weakened OHL.

Are you still sick today (Thursday, ed.)?

“It’s getting better, but I still feel it a little bit.”

Serie A is a great competition. Then why are you moving to Belgium?

“I also had options in Italy, but after eight years there I needed some comfort with my family, especially my sisters. There were several offers in Belgium, but the OHL project appealed to me the most.”

How did you end up at Chievo at the age of seventeen in Italy?

“I played at Standard for a year at the U11. Then I spent six years at the Académie Jean-Marc Guillou in Lier. Afterwards I returned to Standard, but I felt that I would not get many opportunities there. In Belgium we often make the mistake of writing off players who are not physically ready yet. In Italy they give you much more time to develop calmly.”

Are those eight years in Italy a positive memory?

“Fantastic. Life is just good there: good food, nice weather and fun things to visit.”

Do you miss it already?

“Every country has its advantages. There I was all alone. Now I am with my family, but the weather is not so great here.”

How do you feel about your three seasons of Lazio? Frustrated because you didn’t quite make it?

“I don’t see it as a failure, but as an experience. The core of such a top club is large. Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto have been in my position there for many years. Then you don’t get many chances. Also this year I could stay, but it was to sit on the couch. Then I’d rather leave.”

Is it true that you have dual nationality?

“I have three: Moroccan, Belgian and Italian. My mother is Italian and my father Moroccan.”

The coach told you that you came here with a big conditional deficit. How far are you now?

“Let’s say 80 percent. The rest will come from playing games.”

Was your missed penalty against Genk a more difficult moment?

“Look, I’ve taken 13 penalties in my career, and it was the first one I missed. It can happen to the best.”

You are on the sideline for now. Do you like that?

“I’m good one on one, so I should really come into my own on the flank. Any offensive position is good for me.”

You can go to different places. What is your favorite position?

“It depends a bit on the style of play, but if I really have to choose, I’ll take the ten, because you’re free there. Fortunately, the coach here gives a lot of freedom to all attacking players. We do not work with fixed positions.”

Do you still hear Thomas Henry, your teammate at Venezia last year?

“Certainly, we call every ten days. I motivated him, because things are not going so well with Hellas Verona, his current club.”

Have you talked to him about your transfer to OHL?

“Absolute. He recommended it to me. He said it was a family club.”

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