Pape Cheikh Diop: "We're a real family"
Cheikh, what's the mood like in the OL locker room during this rough patch?
The squad is doing well. We are more united, we talk a lot more because we know that we are going through tough times. We support each other and we 're all working together to finish the season and get second place.
Personally, how do you feel in this squad?
I feel very good. We're like family. My teammates talk to me all the time and help me feel good about coming to work every day.
In your opinion, are the team's poor results more a mental issue than anything?
I don't know... there are many things that can explain these bad results. In our last match (A 3-1 loss at home to Dijon) we were unlucky, we missed chances, but I feel that the squad gets along well and that ultimately we'll achieve our goal.
Has the uncertainty surrounding the coach's future disrupted the group?
No, I don't think so. We don't talk about it amongst ourselves. We're focused on every match that comes and on every training session. We don't talk about anything else that could distract us from our goals. We are focused on the matches so that we can move into second place.
Is being in third place ok with you?
No, we're aiming for second place. We want to qualify directly for the Champions League. It's our one and only goal. It's the only thing we talk about.
You've played a lot more this season compared to your first campaign at the club. How would you rate your progress?
Last season was really difficult for me. I feel good now, even if sometimes I make some mistakes. But that's normal, I'm still learning and improving.
The (1-2) win at Manchester City in your Champions League debut - is that your reference match?
Yes. It was a very important match against one of the best clubs in the world. I felt good on the pitch and was very happy at the end of the match.
On the flip side, what's your worst memory with OL?
Surely the match at Strasbourg (2-2). Even now, I still think a lot about that game... We could have taken points on Lille, but sometimes things happen. I have to forget about it and start over again.
You haven't played since that match. What are your end-of-the-season goals?
I always give my all to be ready for the next game. I just want to help the team finish the season.
As for your future: Will you still be an OL player next season?
Of course! OL is a great club, especially for a young player like me who wants to progress and move forward. I want to have a big season next year and win my spot. I really want to stay here and I want to help the club win titles. Having a good track record is important in a player's career.
Do you feel good in Lyon?
Yes, I feel very good here. I have friends here and speaking French helps me a lot. I'm completely settled in at the club, I always hang out with my teammates. And I like the city a lot, even if I don't go out much. I usually stay at home, but about once a week I'll go downtown, have a coffee or walk my dog (laughs).
Spain, Senegal, the sun... Don't you miss them?
I miss it a bit but not that much either (laughs). I'm happy to be in Lyon and I have my life here now.