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Marc-Antoine Fortune's reunion with Utrecht

15-08-2010

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Hoewel het niet onze gewoonte is willen we onderstaand Engelstalige artikel jullie niet onthouden. Een mooi interview met Marc-Antoine Fortuné. Unhappy returns: Marc-Antoine Fortune's reunion with Utrecht will bring back painful memories On Thursday Marc-Antoine Fortune will face former club Utrecht in the first leg of the Europa League play-off round at Parkhead. It promises to be an emotional occasion for the Frenchman but, while he will be pleased to be re-acquainted with familiar faces, it will be an absent friend who will occupy his thoughts during the build-up to the tie. Fortune admits that he is still coming to terms with the death of David Di Tomasso, the French defender who had persuaded him to move to Holland from Stade Brest. Di Tommaso, 26, had won the French title with Monaco five years earlier and was a big influence on the young striker, who never recovered from his mentor dying of a heart attack while he slept in November, 2005. Utrecht immediately "retired" the player's No.4 jersey but the abrupt nature of his passing profoundly affected everyone at the club, not least Fortune, who never recaptured his impressive early form in Holland after the tragedy. "He was my friend and it is still really hard to talk about it," he said. "I miss him. He was a really good friend. They still have retired his number. "When I was with Nancy there were some benefit games in his memory which I went to. The most important thing is that we don't forget him. "Of course, I still think about him a lot. Before every game, I pray for him. He is still with me and it is always like that when you lose somebody who means something to you. You always think about these people. "He was player of the year at the club the year before he died. I found it difficult to play football immediately after it happened. You know, football is part of us, but when somebody dies you forget about football. "You realise that football is important but not the most important thing. After one month it started getting easier, but that first month was very hard for me. "I knew him from a long, long time ago. He was my friend even before I signed for Utrecht. In fact, he was the reason why I joined them because I called him before to ask him if it was good. "Then, afterwards, we were neighbours in the same build ADVERTISEMENT ing. I knew his brother, Yohan - who is also a footballer - before we linked up like that. For a few years I was a very close friend of the family." Fortune, 29, eventually returned to France and rebuilt his career with AS Nancy but he has retained ties with the Dutch club. However, while he will never be able to escape the sadness he associates with Utrecht, he will not allow his heart to rule his head on Thursday evening. There will be no room for sentiment until the final whistle has been sounded. "It is a big game, for qualification for the Europa League and also for me it is a chance for me to go back and play against my old team. I am really pleased to go back there. "There will be a big emotion for me, because I had a really good time there and I know a lot of people there, and I really enjoyed to live in Utrecht and play for the club. It is a good club, they are behind the top four or five big teams in Holland, they are always in sixth or seventh place but we have to be ready for a big game because they will not make it easy for us. "They are a team without stars, but they try to play good football. I didn't see them play last year but I always spoke to my friend about them and he told me that they played very well. It's going to be a good game. "My closest friend who is still there is Francis Dickoh, the defender, but there are other players whose names you might not know. "It would be a big job to play directly up against Francis but I don't know if he is going to play. But even if he does, I wear the Celtic jersey now so he will not be my friend on the pitch." Di Tommaso's death helped provide Fortune with a sense of perspective when it comes to the vagaries of fortune in football but he nonetheless appreciates the significance of the outcome of this tie to his employers. Asked whether it would be a disaster if Celtic were to be eliminated at this stage, his reply was emphatically unambiguous. "Of course it would," he said. "Because we have to be in Europe every year, representing Scotland. When you are playing for Celtic you cannot think about having a season without European football. "We need more European games against French and Italian (clubs]. When you play teams from different countries with different styles then you always learn more and more. "This will maybe be the fourth season I have played in the Europa League so I am starting to know more about how it works. It's always good for a footballer to play at a different level. "I think Celtic are the favourites because we are the bigger team and the bigger club. We play in the Champions League or Europa League every year, and they are not used to that, but like I say we have to be up for it because it is not going to be easy." Fortune was Tony Mowbray's marquee signing last summer but scored just ten times in 40 appearances. At times he resembled Heskey more than Henrik but he has appeared more comfortable on the right of a front three during pre-season matches under Neil Lennon. "I would be happy if I play centre back," he said. "I am here to help the team. If I am on the right I will be on the right. If I am to play striker I will play striker. But I try to do well when I play wide right and, if Neil is happy with that, there is no problem. "Last year already I played there a few times, so we both know that I can do that." Bron: Ewing Grahame - Scotsman

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