Modou Sougou believes his international days with Senegal are over but his Sheffield Wednesday adventure is just beginning.
The 31-year-old former Marseille winger has not played for Senegal since they failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, and fears his international career is consigned to history.
But he is excited to be part of Carlos Carvalhal’s Owls squad who are chasing success on two fronts; promotion to the Premier League and a money-spinning run in the FA Cup.
Wednesday are sixth in the Championship – and face a tricky double-header next week against Burnley and Birmingham City – but the Owls turn their attention to the FA Cup today and a trip to League One strugglers Shrewsbury Town.
Sougou has had to bide his time, such has been the form of midfield quartet Barry Bannan, Sam Hutchinson, Ross Wallace and Kieran Lee.
He has made just nine starts for Wednesday, four of which have come in cup outings, and is likely to be involved today as Carvalhal rotates his squad.
“You have to be patient,” said Sougou. “When I came here, we had so many players and a big team, and you have to be patient.
“The manager has to have the equilibrium, the balance in the team. The players who are not playing are important, too.
“We have so many games, so many tough games, we have to prepare ourselves to be ready.
“I have experience, and now I understand how things can change quickly. We have to be ready.
“When the players play well, sometimes the coach doesn’t have the motive to change. It’s why we support the team.
“The positive spirit inside the squad is good. If you had some players who are out and bring negative spirit, it’s not good for the team.
“We understand this and all have the same objective. We want to go top and get in the Premier League next season.
“For example, it’s not easy for players like (Lewis) McGugan and (Jose) Semedo to stay on the sidelines.
“Sometimes you are on the bench, or don’t play, but they understand it’s for the balance of the team and it is the manager who decides.
“We have confidence in him and know he will do what’s right for the team.
“If the team win, we all win together. If the team loses, it’s complicated for everybody, but more complicated for the players who don’t play.”
But while his Owls career is just starting, Sougou – who made his Senegal debut in 2007 – accepts there will be more international caps. He said: “I played in the last World Cup (qualifiers). That was my last game.
“Now I think my time has finished with the national team, for me. I am just focused on my time in Sheffield.
“We have had so many changes in our national football, because we have had so many disappointed staff. They are looking for new players, more younger players.
“You never say never, but sometimes the ‘never’ is inside your head.”
Shrewsbury is a long way from Senegal but Sougou claims the Owls will not be taking their opponents lightly.
The Shrews won away at Cardiff City in the previous round, despite sitting just outside the League One relegation zone.
“I don’t know much about Shrewsbury, but when they put out Cardiff I thought ‘this team is interesting’,” he said.
“We will see how they play, but if we do our job we will pass. But it will not be easy.
“I understand one thing from my time in England, all the games are very difficult. I know about the Cup’s history.”
Despite facing a big home game on Tuesday night against third-placed Burnley in the Championship before a trip to seventh-placed Birmingham a week today, Sougou says Wednesday’s focus is on today’s match.
“The next game is always the most important for us,” he said. “We don’t think about the league games.
“Our future depends on this game. We want to win, to be strong, and keep our solidarity.
“At the moment, we don’t think about promotion. We just think game by game.
“The Championship is very difficult and we have so many games.
“It’s not important to be in sixth place now, what’s important is where we are at the end.
“We have to have more ambition than sixth place, think about the first two places.
“If the top two is mathematically possible, why not, but we have to just work day by day.”