Former Newcastle goalkeeper says players were “mostly looking out for themselves”

Matz Sels

Matz Sels says he encountered an unfriendly dressing room atmosphere when he arrived at Newcastle United from Gent.

The Magpies signed the Belgian for a reported £6 million on a five-year deal in the summer of 2016 but, despite keeping an impressive four clean sheets in the first nine games of the Premier League season, he was abruptly dropped and didn’t feature again for the rest of the season.

A loan move to Anderlecht followed in 2017/18 before he joined Strasbourg last summer, where he has established a reputation as one of the best stoppers in Ligue 1.

Reflecting on his time at St James’ Park, Sels said he discovered a different environment from what he was used to upon his arrival in England.

“The change was tough,” he told Sport/Foot.

“I went from a group of friends to a dressing room where players were mostly looking out for themselves.

“At Anderlecht too, it was each to their own in a way. My team-mates there were more like colleagues than anything else.”

Sels also revealed that he was close to staying with Anderlecht last summer before a deal collapsed.

“Sometimes, it’s a question of details: you can be transferred because your agent is friends with the manager of a club,” he said.

“It’s a cliché, but when you work hard enough, something opens up. I would have liked to stay, yes, otherwise I wouldn’t have found an agreement with them.

“It could have worked out if people put a bit of effort in. I know how it works. I need to do my job on the pitch but also play these little games.”

This season, Sels has kept five clean sheets in 24 league appearances for Strasbourg, who are ninth in Ligue 1.