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Francis Laurent: From friendly visit to Southend contract

For Francis Laurent, playing professionally in England is a dream come true.

The 23 year-old French winger has settled quickly at Southend United since arriving just over 12 months ago from Germany's FSV Mainz. Laurent was handed an initial one-year deal, but such was his early impact that Southend management were quick to upgrade the agreement to two-and-a-half years.

Laurent admits he was convinced about joining Southend by teammate and fellow Frenchman Jean-Francois Christophe.

"I came to England because to me it is the best football in the world," Laurent told tribalfootball.com. "I visited Jef (Christophe) and I was out of contract at the time so I visited the club and they offered me a trial. I played a trial game against Fulham, scored one and made a goal and I signed a one year which later got extended and it all went from there.

"I was happy because it gave me more security and in a way it gave me the motivation to improve myself even more going forward."

Laurent knows Christophe from their days together in France and admits he's happy to be playing club football with his life-long friend.

"Firstly, I think he is a great player with huge talent," says Laurent. "We use to play together in France as kids and we have known each other for years, so it has helped me settle a lot having one of my best friends at the same club." Laurent admits he's had to adjust his game since arriving in England.

"Yeah of course! When I first came I was a striker but I have always thought I am better playing on the wing which eventually happened for me and I started doing well. After that I continued playing well in that position and had to condition myself to be more aware defensively but I haven't really looked back since then," Laurent says.

The powerful midfielder admits looking around at the talent he has faced since arriving in England has him convinced he can compete comfortably at a higher level.

"If I'm honest I feel have adapted really well to life in England and I feel comfortable at League One," says Laurent.

"However, looking at some teams and players I don't think it's unrealistic for me to play in the Premiership - which I am working towards and it should be every young player's ambition to play in the top division."

Although he has higher ambitions, Laurent admits it's exciting to be visiting the grounds of heavyweights Leeds United, Southampton and Charlton Athletic in this season's League One campaign.

"Yeah of course! You want to test yourself against good teams and they are all good teams with big fan bases," Laurent reflects. "So yeah, it's a great thrill when we play against those clubs."

Southend currently sit mid-table and Laurent says the dressing room remain confident of a second-half of the season push for promotion - but knows it will take hard work to achieve.

"Hopefully, if we carry on the way we have played at times this season we can achieve promotion," adds Laurent. "But we will have to work hard for it."

About the author

Tribal Football Staff

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