Yacob en­joys jour­ney on and off pitch

The Post’s For­est writer talks to Ar­gen­tine star Clau­dio Yacob

Nottingham Post - - SPORT - PAUL TAY­LOR

IT is hard to en­vis­age the thought of Clau­dio Yacob, hud­dled in a bus shel­ter, wait­ing pa­tiently to catch a ride into the city cen­tre.

But do keep an eye out for the Not­ting­ham For­est man, be­cause you just might be in for a sur­prise.

It is clear that, for the mid­fielder, some­times it is the small things that can bring joy to life in Eng­land. In­clud­ing, ap­par­ently, the sim­ple plea­sure of be­ing able to use pub­lic trans­port, should he want to.

Whether he is a back seat of the top deck or a down­stairs near the doors kind of guy, we will prob­a­bly never know. But the Ar­gen­tinian mid­fielder says he is en­joy­ing life here and, specif­i­cally, with Not­ting­ham For­est.

And one of the things that makes him happy is the sense of or­gan­i­sa­tion and struc­ture, that he feels life in the East Mid­lands has to of­fer.

“I en­joy it here. My son and my fam­ily like it here. When I came here, to this coun­try, it was not about foot­ball alone, it was about my life,” said Yacob. “It was about get­ting to know a new place; about hav­ing a new ex­pe­ri­ence and that is what we are do­ing as a fam­ily. We en­joy it.

“We re­ally like this coun­try. I like that ev­ery­thing works! In South Amer­ica it is not al­ways like this.

“When you want to take the bus some­where and the bus is meant to come at 10am, in Eng­land the bus comes at 10am. In South Amer­ica, you would have to get to the bus stop at 9.30am and hope that it comes at some point... hope­fully be­fore 11.30am, if you are lucky.

“We re­ally en­joy life as a fam­ily here. But it is also true that, when we win, life is much bet­ter. You en­joy the week­end much more.”

Yacob was born in Car­carana, a small city of around 22,000 peo­ple in the prov­ince of Santa Fe. With Ar­gentina be­ing pre­dom­i­nantly a catholic coun­try, Christ­mas has al­ways been a big deal in that part of South Amer­ica.

That has not changed for the for­mer West Brom player, even if there are dis­tinct dif­fer­ences to the fes­tive sea­son in Eng­land.

And he says it is an im­por­tant time of year - on and off the pitch, as For­est head into one of the busiest pe­ri­ods of the sea­son.

“It is some­thing we cel­e­brate a lot. It is time that you spend with fam­ily,” said Yacob. “The weather is the big dif­fer­ence. In South Amer­ica it is very hot at this time of year.

“Imag­ine peo­ple eat­ing out­side in the gar­den, or swim­ming in the pool, while hav­ing a glass of cham­pagne, per­haps... so it is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent to here!

“It is a very im­por­tant month for ev­ery­one in this coun­try. You play six or seven games, you play a lot of games in De­cem­ber and Jan­uary.

“Many teams will not have a good month and can find them­selves in trou­ble in the ta­ble.

“If you have a good month, you will be in a very good po­si­tion in the ta­ble. So it is a very im­por­tant month for us.”

Yacob’s wish list is an ob­vi­ous one, as he looks ahead to 2019 and what it might bring. The mid­fielder has clearly stated his am­bi­tions for the team more than once.

He wants to win pro­mo­tion with For­est; to se­cure an­other chance to play in the top flight.

And Yacob has a clear idea of how the club can give them­selves the best chance of mak­ing that hap­pen.

“In my opin­ion, at Not­ting­ham For­est, it is re­ally clear that this is a club that re­ally wants to go up. We re­ally wish for that,” he said.

“To have a chance to go up, you have to take things game by game. This is how we have to view things. We are go­ing game by game and this is how we are think­ing now, when we look at Satur­day and what will be a tough game for us.

“When you start to see the ta­ble – and it is good to see For­est in the top six – some­times it can be a trap; a mis­take.

“We have to take things one game at a time and there is a long way to go. There are still more than 25 games left to play and things can change quickly.

“In two games we could see things change a lot.

“I came to the club a lit­tle bit later, in Septem­ber. But I can see that now we are much bet­ter as a team. I can feel that. Ev­ery week I can see that, as a team, we are feel­ing strong.

“I think it will be dif­fi­cult for op­po­nents to beat us. To get pro­mo­tion or to get good re­sults in this divi­sion, you have to do well as a team.

“It is not about a few play­ers, it is about how well you can do as a team. We are work­ing on that all the time and the man­ager is very clear that this is what he wants.”

It is Yacob’s first sea­son play­ing Cham­pi­onship foot­ball, fol­low­ing six years in the top flight with West Brom.

But he is quickly learn­ing the nu­ances of one of the most com­pet­i­tive di­vi­sions on the planet - and knows that Karanka’s side will be in for an­other tough test this week­end.

“Pre­ston are a good team; they are a com­pet­i­tive team. They have good play­ers, par­tic­u­larly in the mid­dle. They have very good mid­field­ers,” said Yacob.

“We will have to be ready if we want to win this game. I do not know their po­si­tion in the ta­ble or how they have done in re­cent years - but I am sure they will fin­ish in a good po­si­tion in the ta­ble.

“They play with in­ten­sity and they have a few qual­ity play­ers.

“When the op­po­si­tion has qual­ity mid­field­ers and for­wards, as they have, it can be dif­fi­cult. We will have

to work very hard and be very smart to beat them.

“I am not sure if they will come to win or to take a point - per­haps a draw would be good for them.

“But we re­ally want the three points and we will do all we can to get them.”

Yacob speaks eight lan­guages and, hav­ing spent so long in Eng­land, has no prob­lem com­mu­ni­cat­ing. He also ap­par­ently has no prob­lem lis­ten­ing, as he re­peats one of Ai­tor Karanka’s favoured mantras, about tak­ing things one game at a time.

“In two or three games, ev­ery­thing could change. But we can­not think about Chelsea or about what hap­pens in Fe­bru­ary or March,” said Yacob.

“If we get three points, ev­ery­thing will be bet­ter. But, if we lose, it will feel very dif­fi­cult.

“We are re­ally just think­ing about Satur­day. That is the truth. To go to Chelsea to play in the cup will be good. But there are a few more games to come be­fore then.

“For me, get­ting three points against Bris­tol is ex­actly the same as get­ting three points against Mid­dles­brough.

“In the end, we are hun­gry for three points in ev­ery game. We play Pre­ston this week­end and we want to get three points, be­cause they could be very im­por­tant points.”

What­ever mode of trans­port he takes, Yacob hopes that his jour­ney will end with Not­ting­ham For­est, back in the Premier League.

Clau­dio Yacob bat­tles with Yan­nick Bo­lasie of As­ton Villa dur­ing the thrilling 5-5 draw

Yacob up against Liver­pool’s Adam Lal­lana dur­ing his Premier League days with West


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