Jean-Claude Billong came out to say goodbye to the Ljudski Vrt
‘Maribor will remain in my heart forever.’
Foto: Drago Wernig
He left quickly, and the transfer could not have been prevented. After the excellent autumn, Jean-Claude Billong became a member of Benevento and came to say goodbye to the Ljudski Vrt, where he experienced unforgettable moments. From Italy, where he has already successfully debuted in Serie A, he will continue to follow the purple story closely. For his own story, however, he did not anticipate it happening so successfully, even in his dreams.

‘I wanted to play in the best team in Slovenia. That did happen to me, but I did not think that I would leave so quickly, and I admit that I’m leaving with mixed feelings. I am happy and sad at the same time. This half-year was great for me, with many beautiful moments. We played in the Champions League; we became the autumn champions. When it was great, we stuck together. However, we were also united in the not so pleasant moments.’ He did not hide his emotions at the departure from the purple locker room.

When he rewinds the film of the exceptional autumn, he points out that he significantly intensified the form from match to match. At the same time, he realised how it is possible for professional work to lead to considerable progress.
‘I would like to thank the fans and teammates; I played well because of them. Great thanks for my football development also goes to the coach, Darko Milanič, who taught me so much, to the Sports Director, Zlatko Zahovič, who brought me here and provided excellent conditions for my progress, and to my good friend Gajser and all the rest of the team. Everyone has influenced me, and I will not forget them. When I arrived, I had problems because the training sessions were demanding. The training is high-quality, since the fellow players are excellent too, defenders, goalkeepers, midfielders as well as forwards. They’re all at top level. I’ve greatly benefited from playing here because I’ve also progressed in tactics, which will be very useful for me playing in Serie A. They’ve also taught me how to behave on the pitch, what the body language should be; in short, I’ve got many additional characteristics of the central defender.’

In his brief period with us, Billong also forged strong friendship bonds. ‘I got along excellently with Kabha and Sunny, and I must mention Tavares in particular, who gave me a lot of good advice and helped me to focus solely on football.’

Serie A has acquired a new quantity of purple hint with the French defender, while we have a new fan in the Apennine Peninsula.
‘Maribor will always remain in my heart. I was given the opportunity to play to show myself. Playing in the Champions League was unforgettable for me. Thank you to everyone; I will also follow with interest everything that happens in the future with Maribor from Italy.’