x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Mears aims to shine in the sun

From Derby drizzle to south of France the controversial right-back looks to make a big impression at Marseille.

Tyrone Mears playing for Derby County before his loan move to Marseille.
Tyrone Mears playing for Derby County before his loan move to Marseille.

The Brazilian Robinho dominated the headlines in England with his £32.5million (Dh213m) switch from Real Madrid to Manchester City on frantic transfer deadline day in England - but if you looked down the list of last-minute deals you'd have spotted details of a former City trainee making an equally intriguing move.

The Derby County defender Tyrone Mears left behind the second tier of English football for more glamorous climes when he quit Championship side Derby County for Olympique Marseille after a successful, if secret, trial with the one-time European champions. The try-out at Le Veldrome essentially spelt the end to his Derby career, with the manager Paul Jewell saying: "To me, he's just insulted the whole football club - the players, the staff, chairman, but more importantly the supporters.

"I'll tell you now, he'll never play for Derby again while I'm manager. Who does he think he is? It's an absolute affront to Derby County. I am absolutely raging. "I don't want him here. I don't want him here at the football club anymore, that's for sure. If he wants a move, he can go. "Tyrone Mears has no future at Derby. This is a brilliant place to work and he's just signed his death warrant." By agreeing a season-long loan deal on the Mediterranean coast, Mears exchanged the worries of a second consecutive relegation battle for the more appealing prospect of a French league title challenge and Champions League football. Derby were less delighted, and on Friday fined him six weeks wages because he did not inform them he was going to France for his trial.

But despite the controversy, Mears is now desperate to show what he can do for his new club - starting with tonight's Ligue 1 clash with fellow French giants Monaco. "It's such a fantastic club and I'm really enjoying it," Mears said. "It was a big decision for me because I wanted to play in the Premier League but when these sorts of chances come along you have to take them. I just thought, let's go and try it and see how it goes.

"I don't speak French but I'm learning the technical football terms so that'll help me get by. [Marseille teammate] Boudewijn Zenden has been a massive help, too. He speaks perfect English and is giving me tips on places to live, where the shops are and the like. And the coach speaks English as well, so I'm settling in quite quickly." Mears couldn't possibly have asked for a better teacher - Marseille coach Eric Gerets was one of the finest right-backs of his generation, winning 86 caps for Belgium and lifting the European Cup, as it was known then, with PSV Eindhoven in 1988. Now respected as a manager across the continent, the 54-year-old manager has guided four different clubs to five league titles in Belgium, Holland and Turkey.

"It's great for me working with him because he played in my position," said Myers. "He was a hard player, from what I've heard, and the players say he really, really likes his team organised. "To be honest I thought training would be more relaxed than in England, but if anything it's more intense. I was trying not to go in too hard at first because you don't want to injure anybody but the coach is encouraging me to get stuck in."

The other draw for Mears was the chance to play Champions League football but he was omitted from Marseille's squad so that they could fulfil their quota of home-grown players. However, Mears is not fazed by the setback and wants to make his mark on Ligue Un. "It's an opportunity to prove yourself and that's what I've come here to do. This is a place where I can really make a name for myself." @Email:sports@thenational.ae