Barnsley FC v Lincoln City: De Gevigney on swapping relegation fight for promotion push, inspiration from an Arsenal legend and drawing strength from adversity

NO-ONE is entitled to appreciate a promotion push at Barnsley more than defender Mael de Gevigney.

The Frenchman has overcome a rocky start to his Reds career to become a consistent, established and key part of a Reds side who are right in the mix at the business end of League One for the second successive year.

Rocky is a word which can be used to describe De Gevginey's experiences at former club Nimes last season - although that is probably putting things mildly.

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The Occitanie club were relegated from Ligue 2 to the Championnat National and if that wasn't bad enough, there were all manner of vicissitudes off the pitch.

Barnsley's French defender Mael de Gevigney. Picture: Getty.Barnsley's French defender Mael de Gevigney. Picture: Getty.
Barnsley's French defender Mael de Gevigney. Picture: Getty.

Major financial problems consumed Nimes, allied to poor training facilities and infrastructure and it was no surprise that they were eventually demoted.

De Gevigney, speaking ahead of today’s game, said: "It was a really tough year and season, to be honest. It was the first time I was fighting against relegation.

"It was really difficult for me, the club and all the staff in Nimes.

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"Now, I am focused on Barnsley and don’t want to think about it (last year).

"I am feeling really good at Barnsley and know that the objective of the club is to be promoted and that’s why I came here.

"I like to feel this atmosphere - around promotion - and we aim to do our best.

"The atmosphere is much better."

Like a number of continental arrivals in recent years, De Gevigney came to Oakwell as an unknown and given several misses as opposed to hits over the past few seasons, the jury was out regarding the Frenchman at first.

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A torrid full debut against Oxford at Oakwell when he was substituted for tactical reasons in the first half made for a difficult start.

It is to the immense credit of De Gevigney - who models his game on former Arsenal and France defender Laurent Koscielny - that he has turned things around in outstanding fashion.

He added: "I followed French players and I like Arsenal and liked Koscielny.

"Some people told me I play like him and he’s a good player, so I like that. I like almost everything to be honest in England, the crowd, atmosphere and away games we play with a lot of intensity.

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"It was a tough moment (v Oxford) and one of my worst games, to be honest. But since then, I knew it wanted to achieve good things at Barnsley and work hard and now I don’t think about this, but the future."

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