Cry Wolf’s interview with ex-Wolves man Ludovic Pollet

Ludo imageHe is the battle-hardened Frenchman who won the heart of Wolves fans with his combative style and never-say-die attitude.

Ludovic Pollet, the no-nonsense defender who became a cult hero at Molineux, is one of a small number of successful foreign imports to wear old gold and black.

It is 13 years since the 45-year-old left Wolves (the summer the club returned to the Premier League under Dave Jones) but ‘Ludo’ still holds the club dear to his heart.

In an interview with Cry Wolf the former defender speaks about his dreams of coaching in England; how he has scouted French football on behalf of Wolves ; who the best player he played alongside at Molineux and revealing his love of the Black Country Derby.

So Ludovic tell us about life after you left Wolves?

I stopped playing football and went to the south of France for six months but then in January 2004 I signed for USL Dunkerque.

Ludo 6

I was to stay with the club for eight years, two and a half years of those were as a player and after that I was off the field before eventually becoming a first team coach.

In 2012 I left Dunkerque to work with Tarbes near Toulouse, they were in the fourth level of French football, so the equivalent of League 2 in England. I was there for three years but my contract ended in June 2015. Now I’m looking for a new job and I’d love to coach in England – especially with Wolves.

Have you had any offers from England?

I’ve not been offered any jobs in England but I will always be interested by English football. I have to prove that I can coach in England, possibly in League One or League Two, but like France it’s difficult to get a contract.

You returned to Wolves last summer as part of your education as a coach, how did that go?

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It was good to return to Wolverhampton. Since my visit I’ve stayed in contact with Wolves through Kevin Thelwell and Jez Moxey and I proposed to them to use my knowledge of French football to look for possible players to sign from France.

They agreed to work with me so that’s what I do at the moment, I go out to games in France and I recommend players. Hopefully I will be visiting the club at the beginning of June so maybe then I’ll know if anything more happens with Wolves.

Players from the French league seem to be dominating the Premier League, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kanté at Leicester City and Dimitri Payet at West Ham, is France currently the best place in Europe for talent?

There are some great players in France but the difference between the French league and the English leagues is the mentality. It was something I had to learn, before I came to England I played for eight years at the top level in France but when I came to Wolves, I realised you must be more physical and show you are better than the English player.

In England, you can have a player who has played 10 games and a player who has 200 games and they can be of the same ability. In France you have to play more games to reach the level of those players in England but there are a lot of players in France with a lot of talent.

When you joined Wolves you went from the top division in France to the second tier of English football how did the move come about?

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When I had the possibility to sign for Wolves it was a dream for me.

I always said I wanted to play in England, when I signed for Le Harve I said to my agent, ‘yes I’m going to Le Harve but after three years I want to play in England’. But it wasn’t my agent who found Wolves for me it was the chief executive of Le Harve because he was in contact with an agent in England.

It was some start to your career in England because you won Fans’ Player of the Season in your first year at Wolves, was that a shock for you?

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I didn’t even know there was an award at the end of the season – I was very surprised.

All I wanted to do when I came to England was prove that I could play. In my first game I played for eight minutes and the two games after that I was on the bench but Colin Lee eventually gave me my chance against Crystal Palace.

At that time I just wanted to play and score goals and on the day I was given the award one of the players came up to me and said I had to meet the chairman for me to be given the award.

It was great because it was the fans who voted for me and my relationship with the fans grew from there, it was always a pleasure when the fans sang my name. They were great times for me.

Is there one particular memory that stands out for you at your time at Wolves?

One memory that stays with me was the derby against West Bromwich Albion (Wolves 3 -1 Albion March 2001). Kevin Muscat told me that as soon as I crossed the white line it was a battle. I knew I was up against Lee Hughes and I was so determined to win that game and I knew what it meant to the supporters. To score in that game was amazing and for my good friend George Ndah to get two was fantastic also.

George Ndah

From my the first day at Wolves I was told just how much the derby meant to the club and the supporters. Muscat, Ade (Akinbiyi) and George (Ndah) all spoke to me about it- it was the first thing people told me.

But it wasn’t just the derby against West Brom. When Wolves played Birmingham I was on the bench and even then the atmosphere was so loud.

It is why during my time coaching Tarbes and Dunkerque I said to my players ‘if you want to see a derby, this is a derby’ and I showed them videos of Wolves v West Brom.

Who was the best player you played with at your time at Wolves?

Paul Ince

I’ve been fortunate to play with so many great players in my career. I played with Zinedine Zidane and Patrick Vieria at Cannes and they are some of the greats of French football.

At Wolves the best player for me was Paul Ince. The last 6 months of the season we played together he was the best – he was great.

That day at the Millennium Stadium ‘Incey’ was the best player on the pitch – a true leader and captain.

Another I must mention is Joleon Lescott. He was a surprise for me because he started with me at the back and he just improved every game so I enjoyed seeing him improve the way he did.

It’s clear you still have Wolves in your heart, this season hasn’t been the best so where do you think the team could improve?

I haven’t seen them as much as I like. I have only seen them on TV a few times in France so it’s hard to analyse. You have to remember The Championship is a difficult league but I would say they need more experienced players and if you put those experienced players with the young players you know they will improve.

They have lost big players such as Bakary Sako but with any successful team you need experience in goal, in defence, in midfield and in attack and then have young players alongside them.

Is there a player in the current squad who has impressed you?

Dominic Iorfa while playing for the England U21s really impressed me. He stood out for me at right back and I liked how it looked in that position.

What does the future hold for Ludovic Pollet?

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I want to go back to England, I love the country and I like the mentality of England. The players and coaches are winners there because they want to play to prove themselves.

So I could be speaking to the future Wolves coach?

(Laughs) Why not? Perhaps one day.

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