By Khalis Rifhan
Born in the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, former Wigan and Bastia defender Pascal Chimbonda has always dreamt of playing professional football in Europe since he was young.
In an exclusive interview with Goal.com Singapore, Chimbonda spoke of his journey from the island to Le Havre academy, as well as his forgettable moment while turning out for Bastia in the French league.
Starting out for a local team in the island at during his younger years, Chimbonda got his chance when he was snapped up by Le Havre after impressing scouts from the French club.
“Le Havre held a competition with scouts from the club looking for new young talent, so I entered and I was lucky enough to win a place to attend the Le Havre junior academy," he recalls.
“I progressed as a footballer and went on to play for the first team. It was at this club that I kick-started my career and took my position in the football world.”
Chimbonda initially started his career with Le Havre ‘B’ in 1998 before making the step up to the first team a year later, where he made more than 80 appearances. His stellar performances had not gone unnoticed, and he soon found his way to the Armand Cesari Stadium, where he turned out for Bastia in Ligue 1 in 2003.
Although Bastia was relegated at the end of 2004/05 campaign, many top clubs took an interest in Chimbonda, including Olympique de Marseille.
But the defender decided to snub the French giants and instead opted for a move to the English Premier League with Wigan Athletic, a decision that was made in part due to an unpleasant experience in the league.
“When I was playing for Bastia, I suffered a lot of racism which I found difficult to deal with; however, this did not affect my football, but I was eager to leave the club," Chimbonda explains.
Chimbonda, who won the League Cup with Tottenham Hotspur after defeating Chelsea in the 2008 final, is convinced he made the right choice.
“I know there was a risk for turning down Marseille and moving to a new league to play for Wigan," he admits. "I had played in France for quite a number of years and wanted a new challenge in order to progress in my football career.
“[However] I believed I made the right decision as I went on to play for many clubs in the English Premier League and won a trophy.”
Chimbonda last played in the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers in 2009 before signing for Queens Park Rangers in January 2011 on a six-month contract.
But his stay there was cut short as then-manager Neil Warnock had stated that the club was not prepared to offer the defender a long term contract, thus ending their relationship in April.
In our second part of the interview, Chimbonda talks about his greatest moment while playing in England and reveals the reason why his move to Brunei DPMM FC in the S.League did not materialize.