Doncaster Rovers: Issam Ben Khemis opens up about the challenge of adapting to English football

Issam Ben Khemis
Issam Ben Khemis

Issam Ben Khemis has opened up about the challenge he faces adapting to English football.

The 21-year-old was thrilled to score the winner in Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy victory over Sunderland Under 21s - his first goal for Doncaster.

However, the French Tunisian midfielder accepts it will take time and patience to fully adapt to the game in this country.

“I’m learning a different football because English is very different. It’s more physical and very quick,” said Ben Khemis, relased by French Ligue 2 side Lorient in the summer.

“I need a bit of time to adapt to the different culture and different style of football.

“It’s a good team here and a good group. Results are a bit difficult right now but we stick together and we’re going to turn this around.”

Ben Khemis struggled positionally, on the left of the midfield diamond, in his only league start to date for Rovers at Rochdale and was brought off before half time.

“I think my style suits the number ten position best,” he said.

“It’s easier because there’s not as many tactical requirements to understand but I’ll play wherever the gaffer asks me to play.

“In pre-season [on trial] it was easy to express myself, no one is really expecting anything of you in terms of the tactics.

“After this there is all the tactical stuff to learn and there are a lot more demands. I’m starting to understand more and more.

“Sometimes it’s very difficult because my family is not here and my English is very limited. It’s hard to adapt,” he added.

“The gaffer signed me for a reason and he trusts me. I need to learn, work and be patient and my chance will come.

“We’ve got a really good manager here and every day is helping me learn and become a better player.”

Ben Khemis, playing behind the front two, lit up the game against Sunderland with a curling finish and impressive dance to celebrate.

“It was a really young team but we did well,” he said.

“We worked together and it was good to get the win.

“I really enjoyed getting my first goal. Liam Mandeville did a good assist. It was about the team but I was happy to get my goal.

“My goal celebration was for my friend Frenchy [Mathieu Baudry] because we were watching NFL on Sunday and I saw this celebration and I liked it.

“Mathieu has helped me settle me because it’s difficult sometimes when you don’t speak the language, but I’m getting better every day.”

Ben Khemis was speaking partly in English and partly in French, with Baudry acting as a translator.