Midfielder bids Albion farewell
LIFE in the Black Country, scoring against Villa, his views on the 'Kaka' song and why The Hawthorns will always be 'my house' - Youssouf Mulumbu has revealed all, for the final time.
Mulumbu's six-year Hawthorns' career came to an end yesterday. Since his arrival, Albion have been relegated, won promotion...and then claimed successive top flight campaigns.
The midfielder, who signed from Paris Saint-Germain - initially on loan - played more than 200 games for the Baggies, serving under seven different head coaches or managers.
Albion's line-up on the day Mulumbu made his debut was (vs Portsmouth, April 2009): Carson, Zuiverloon (Hoefkens 77), Meite, Olsson, Robinson, Morrison (Wood 75), Koren, Greening, Dorrans, Brunt (Mulumbu 81), Fortune. Not used: Kiely, Borja, Menseguez, Simpson.
His final outing, against Newcastle earlier this month, saw Albion line up as follows: Myhill, Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Lescott, Gardner (Berahino 69), Mulumbu (Morrison 55), Fletcher, Yacob, Brunt, Anichebe (McManaman 78). Not used: Rose, Wisdom, Baird, Ideye.
wba.co.uk caught up with Mulumbu for one last interview.
Q. What is your message to the Albion fans?
A. My message is this: I came to a place I didn't know - I didn't know Birmingham, I knew nothing about West Bromwich. But it's been a pleasure to learn so much about the city, the football club and England.
I discovered the football club, the people, the passion. I've grown to like the place. I've enjoyed it for six years and I just want to say thank you to all of the fans.
They have always been behind me, supported me, sang my song. Even if they criticised me, I always felt it would help me improve my game.
Q. What will be your over-riding thoughts about Albion.
A. I have to say thank you to the club. I came here, in my opinion, as a good player but now I leave as a good Premier League player. And I will never forget my time here. I thank the Club, the Board. I especially thank Dan Ashworth (former Sporting and Technical Director) and Tony Mowbray (manager at the time of Mulumbu's arrival) because they made it possible for me at the start.
Q. What are your highlights?
A. There have been so many happy moments for me. But there are two I remember most - I will never forget scoring against Birmingham when we won 3-1. It was as if the fans were singing my name from the stadium in Birmingham all the way back to West Bromwich.
And the second moment was against Villa when I scored the winning goal. That will always live with me. It was late in the game and it was a wonderful feeling to score such an important goal, especially in a derby. I always get told about it. It was such a big goal. Yes, I loved it...
But also to work with players like Brunty, Dorrans, Morrison, Olsson, Foster, Gaz McAuley was very good. I spoke with them in the dressing room - they helped me, they made me feel good. They made me feel part of the team.
Q. What next?
A. Now I have a new challenge. I don't know where I'm going but I hope to stay in the UK. I wish West Bromwich Albion all the best.
I hope to play against them next season, in 'my house', against 'my fans'. This club is more special to me than Paris. PSG was the academy for me, where I became a professional. But this club gave me everything, they gave me the opportunity to play at the highest level. People know me now because I played for West Bromwich. I thank them for that.
Q. Finally, Albion fans reckon you're better than Kaka. Well?
A. <laughs> Am I better than Kaka? ...I wish. So many people have asked me and I LOVE that song - I really love it. I don't think I am (better than Kaka), but if the fans want to sing that then yes...ok. I hope they think I am. I thank them for that song. I hope to hear it if, hopefully when, I come back next season with my new club.
#BetterThanKaka? In these parts, yes, perhaps he is....
West Bromwich Albion wishes Youssouf all the best for the future.