The Interviews #14: Jeremy Clement

By William Boyd
 June 14, 2020

WB: Bonjour Jeremy, how is everything in France and how are you coping with the Coronavirus crisis
currently facing everybody?

JC: Good evening, in any case I am very happy, I’ve done a lot of interviews speaking in French
recently in France because I recently announced my retirement from the game. But no I am very
happy to do this interview with This is Ibrox because it’s a little change, to speak about Rangers, it’s
nice because it’s a club that even though my stay there wasn’t long, it made a mark on me.

JC: Just one thing, I’ve forgotten that the Scottish accent was so strong!

WB:*laughing* I'm certain it's not the accent they taught you in school with... So you’re recently retired. Are you a little disappointed not to be able to run out with the fans
one last time?

JC: So yes I announced I was to stop my career quite recently, but no really, it was all good because I
have a lot of different projects. I’m about to pass my coaching badges. But yes I’m stopping a big
part of my life but I do want to continue being a part of football and so I’m looking forward to
progressing with my coaching and seeing where that takes me.

WB: Paul Le Guen gave you your professional debut. How was he from the beginning with you?
JC: PLG he was someone yes that helped launch my career at Lyon. And for that he’ll always be a
manager that meant a lot for me and who gave me my chance. And after that he was such a strong
influence on me because when he asked me to come and join him at Rangers, he was a manager
that I knew and that helped to make my mind up.

WB: Was it difficult moving to Glasgow at such a young age?
JC: At first it was difficult because, as William said in the question I was very young. It was the first
time I’d left France and Lyon really. Fortunately I came over with my partner and, actually in Glasgow
there were a lot of French speakers, and in the dressing room too. That had been for me a great help
and really in hindsight, now I’m going to be 36 years old, I think it was a great life experience for me,
it made me more mature and in any case I’m very, very happy with my period at Rangers, having
been able to discover another culture in Scotland, a new style of playing, and experiencing the
support, honestly, that in particular will stay with me, truly.

WB: Did PLG try to be the same coach as he was at Rangers
JC: Yes, I think he was the same coach, the same person. Honestly, Paul probably made some mistakes
at this time. Maybe in his man management, maybe in his general way of doing things. He obviously
didn’t stay very long and I think yes he is aware of the mistakes he had made, but in any case for me
he was the same person, the same coach that I had known. As well as that, I think it was totally
different going from managing a group of French players that he knew and a club that he knew, to
managing a club like Glasgow Rangers with different cultures, different ways of doing things,
different values and it was in this that perhaps he’d made some mistakes for me.

WB: Have you ever wanted to run a marathon in the Sahara?
JC: No I’ve never done a marathon anywhere! But I know he was into that.

WB: How did you feel the mood in the camp was in the summer. Many players have spoken about it,
cutting corners round the laps of Murray Park. Did you find training difficult or was this something
you were used to?

JC: For me I was used to seeing this kind of preseason, but it goes back to what I was saying maybe
Paul made some mistakes with this. He might have wanted to impose a preseason that French clubs
would do without hesitation, into Scotland. Whereas in Scotland it was done differently. I think
what’s complicated is that at the time, there was little motivation for new changes precisely so that
there as little change to that high level as possible, but so maybe there can be touches of the French
style incorporated. The difficulty was that the new inputs to training or to preparation didn’t bother
the new players or the French players, but as I say while trying to keep the values of a huge Scottish
club with big characters and Scottish players who weren’t used to this style, it was that balance.

WB: How did you find the other guys in the dressing room at the time?
JC: Yeah like I said earlier I keep great memories from my time in Scotland. In the media they spoke a
lot at the time about cliques between the French speakers and the British players, the French
speaking French all the time, the British speaking English all the time. I honestly didn’t recognise that
at all, because honestly I feel I had been a player who had been totally accepted by the squad. And
for that yeah I hold amazing memories from that dressing room, the Scottish players, and yeah in
general my time there I truly loved, and really to play for the club and discovering a completely
different dressing room to that which I’d known up until then. Also, I don’t know if I should say or not… a big reason that I had the impression I was accepted
within the dressing is because I was someone who could drink, there were some great times. So
yeah I was someone who would have a drink with the guys. Is that something that helped make me
fit in? Bah maybe.

WB: Where you introduced to Buckfast?
JC: No haha but seriously it’s been 15 years but I remember every day that I played there because I
really enjoyed my time there, over the years I’ve followed over the internet what some of the boys
have went on to do after that time – I think to Kris Boyd, I don’t know why but I got on with him
really well. The left-back, Smith too. Gavin Rae, Alan Hutton. I remember all the players, just the
whole group. Also do you know, I’ve always thought, what would make me happy would be to get along to a
match at Ibrox, I’ve never done it.

WB: Did you have an initiation to perform?
JC: No in fact. I don’t remember having to sing or dance haha.

WB: I don't believe it... I thought you were terrific but perhaps having Barry in the squad didn’t suit the team as you were both very similar. How was
playing alongside him?

JC: Yeah we played, we played together mostly in that role and you’re right for me too, he was truly a
great player, a very very good player. But it ties in a little with what I said earlier, maybe some
mistakes were made by Paul in particular with Barry Ferguson, it’s a shame that they hadn’t perhaps
managed to get along better, I don’t know why. But to play with Barry yes it was great he was a
player with tremendous technique, and who was appreciated by the fans and who had left a mark
on the club. I again hold great memories of my role playing alongside him, he’s someone who’s left
his mark on Scottish football as a whole and I’m glad I got to even play half a season with a player
like that.

WB: Do you think the diet, for the British players, as well as the French, was something that started
the downfall?

JC: It all ties in to the question of what we as individuals were used to. For us in France, we were well
used to this kind of diet. It was normal. It’d be the same though if it was reversed. In France it’s all
about just eating what you need to eat and to be more rigorous [you know “rigorous”?] with your
diet. But for me, I was excited by discovering new things that I wouldn’t experience in France, new
cultures, even music – the music I play in the changing room in France, no way would you normally
hear that in France, I discovered that in Scotland and it’s funny that those little things I experienced
in Scotland I’ve taken with me throughout my career, particularly the music Simply the Best for
example played on the bus journeys. But yeah getting back to your question the diet implemented
wasn’t a surprise to me, quite the opposite.

WB: Did anyone go out your way to help integrate you into the group?
JC: I was well received by all the players actually, to pick a few in particular… It’s difficult I mean I
think to Kris Boyd because again I don’t know why we got on really well. I honestly can’t name a
player in particular who helped it was genuinely the whole dressing room at that time. I have an anecdote, I don’t why I’m telling you this but, Simply the Best, the song I heard at
Rangers, after I arrived at Saint-Etienne, before each match, I put Simply the Best on in the dressing
rooms. It was me in charge of the speaker and the song itself had such an impact on me, I don’t
know why, that I made it necessary to get it on before we went out to warm-up before a game! A
little homage to Rangers before each game.

WB: That song gets the blood flowing around Ibrox. It really gets What was Dado Prso like?
JC: I had a lot of admiration for this guy, because he wasn’t the best technically but by god he played
with his heart. I think he was so loved by the supporters because of this, because they supported
with all their heart and for me that was the difference I noticed between the French and Scottish
game, maybe in general it’s less technical but there are more players who play with the heart, more
warriors, and he certainly did that and I liked it a lot.

WB: How did you find the quality in the Scottish league compared to in France.
JC: That’s a good point there was a difference. The intensity in Scotland was markedly higher, I
remember my first match, not sure I remember the opposition but yes that was the first thing I
noticed, the intensity was something. And it was there throughout, teams like Celtic, Aberdeen,
Hearts who weren’t bad, but even beneath them all the teams in the league put severe intensity into
the games right from kick-off and I just remember it was a fight all the time, a constant fight.

WB: Do you remember Aberdeen away? The fans aren’t the most welcoming
JC: I don’t remember the supporters exactly but I do remember we won. I remember particularly
because it was just before Christmas, like two or three days before. We won 2-0 I believe, but yes
that close to Christmas it wasn’t something I was used to and I think it was noon up at Aberdeen. But
yes I remember well we won this match.

WB: Did you have an injury at the time of the first Celtic match?
JC: I played against Celtic at Ibrox, but not at Celtic Park – I was injured. I understand a little! (Speaking in English)
Yes. When you’re a footballer you want to play, simple as that. People ask me a lot in France, ‘you
played the Lyon Saint-Etienne derby, PSG-Marseille’ and I say they are only just comparable to the
old firm. As footballers we dream of playing in matches like that because they’re just crazy. For me,

when I play I play with emotion and personally I always wanted to play in big matches so yes I was
disappointed to miss the tie at Celtic Park.

WB: As you said you were fit for the next Old Firm game at home to Celtic. Did anyone warn you about the

JC: Everyone told me about the atmosphere and that’s the first thing I noticed the atmosphere, I
remember the time of the match again because it was midday which was unusual. It was a great
match to be involved in, I remember when we started the intensity was just insane. I think the
standout for them was Nakamura. But the atmosphere was crazy and incredible.

WB: Were you in the changing room at the time of the argument between Le Guen and Barry

JC: Honestly I don’t remember umm, it was a long time ago! If you say that’s the moment that things
got heated, that may be right but honestly I don’t remember exactly what happened between the

WB: Could you feel the pressure wearing the Rangers top? Because you’ve played with Saint-Etienne,
PSG etc. how was the pressure of winning every week?

JC: I think that when I was at Rangers I didn’t realise the same pressure you’re describing because I
was so young and when you are young you are a bit more carefree. But now when people ask me
about Rangers, I tell them how big a club it is with such a huge following, with a great history and it
just really is a mythical club in football. It’s regarded very highly in France. But yes when I played,
even though I was young, of course I regarded them like one of the big clubs here like PSG where
you must win every game.

WB: What did you think of seeing Ibrox?
JC: Well wow yes it’s a mythical stadium, it truly is. What hit me the most is that they kept this nod to
their traditions throughout the stadium even in the dressing rooms with the wood, wooden coat
racks and all the nice old touches likes that which seems to pay respect to the past players who
played for the club – I thought that was really good. In France we don’t really have that kind of thing.
At stadiums we watch football but we don’t necessarily reflect on our history like you do at Rangers.

WB: PLG left, how did it impact you?
JC: Yeah obviously I would have liked him to stay, but after having a chat with the new coach who
arrived at the time (I don’t remember his name – Walter?). He actually told me look I want you to
stay but at that time the opportunity arose for me to return to France to sign for PSG and it’s true
that the opportunity at the time seemed like an amazing challenge. Do I have regrets, do I regret not
having played enough, yes – I would have like to have had a little more time there to be honest. But,
I did have the opportunity to return to France and go to PSG and it’s one of those big choices but yes
I’d have like to have played longer.

WB: What were the discussions with Walter?
JC: He was very good with me, he mentioned that during my six months at the club I was one of
standouts despite the poor results at that time, and the factors were that I was young, I was good
enough and that I’d improve even more, and also there would be an opportunity to sell me at a later
date for a higher figure. Because of those I think in general he would have like to keep me and would
have liked to see me progress

WB: What about your career since Rangers?
JC: I went on the play for PSG, the capital club, huge club. I spent 4 and a half years in Paris, I won
trophies. It was amazing playing at the Parc des Princes. I’ve been really lucky throughout my career
to have played for truly big club, clubs like as we’ve said with amazing supporters, with history etc.

So yes Rangers, then moved to Paris and then I spent 6 years at St. Etienne and similarly, it reminds
me a bit of Rangers because again you have lots of supporters, a packed stadium and a passion for
the club and yes honestly I’ve been so lucky to have been part of big clubs and at these clubs, when
the supporters love their team that much you as a player become a supporter and it’s great.

WB: What is your favourite trophy?
JC: I have to say the first league title with Lyon was a special one. I won plenty of trophees and I would
have loved to have won trophies at Rangers. But that’s life but yes I’d have to say my first league
title at Lyon.

WB: How would you sum up your time at Rangers
JC: Like I said I truly loved my 6 months there, I really enjoyed the city, the culture, I discovered new
things, the people, the respect – I actually found the people much more respectful in Scotland than
in France to be honest. I speak with my wife about it and it’s just a very warm memory and it helped
me grow as both a person and as a player. I’m not just saying it but I’d love to come back. We’d like
to come back for a holiday in Scotland and I’d personally love to come see a match at Ibrox, or even
pop by and watch a training session – that’d be something that’d make me happy because I really
enjoyed my time there and even though it was short, it was powerful for me and important for me.

WB: You had 6 matches for France was this a good memory for you?
JC: Yes it was with the u21s (les espoirs) but yes I remember, one of those games was against the
Scotland u21s! We played them in Scotland. But yes I was proud to do so. I played against the likes
of Steven Smith, Charlie Adam, Alan Hutton I think too.

WB: Did you visit anywhere else in Scotland?
JC: I visited Edinburgh, also visited Loch Ness too. I really enjoyed the Scottish culture, the places to go
I even tried Haggis too - It’s full of things like that that are difficult to comprehend until you’re there,
like pubs that are inside churches. There’s nothing like that in France, it isn’t possible. It’s full of
things that are just wow, and give me plenty of good memories.

WB: Who was the best opponent throughout your career?
JC: That’s difficult. The player I think who was the best was Hatem Ben Arfa. I played with him at Lyon
and he’s one of the most gifted I’ve played with, afterwards I played with a player called Pauletta, a
striker. Played against hmm it’s difficult. I think it’s personal but I didn’t like playing against Mathieu
Valbuena. He was very small so he went down very easily but no he was good.

WB: Thanks very much, pleased to finally speak to you. It’s clear you enjoyed your time at Rangers and thank
you for joining us.

JC: Me too thank you for this, it makes me happy to remember because it’s a big part of my career. If you can get a message to someone at Rangers who can invite former players, it would be a pleasure to come see a match one day!

William Boyd

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