‘At that moment I forgot I was ‘Sebastien Bassong Premier League player’ - City defender apologises for handgun pictures
- Credit: Archant © 2013
Norwich City's team captain has reiterated his sorrow at posting pictures of himself with a handgun - claiming he momentarily forgot he was 'Sebastien Bassong Premier League player'.
The defender posted pictures of himself shooting the gun and holding it to his lips on social media site Instagram last May, drawing criticism from gun crime campaigners.
Writing about it for a national newspaper the 27-year-old revealed the incident led him to be fined by the club.
He said: 'I want to say sorry. I was fined by Norwich after posting pictures of myself posing with a gun on my Instagram page. I must explain.
'At that moment I forgot I was 'Sebastien Bassong Premier League player' – being watched. In my head I was 'Sebastien Bassong from Paris'.
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'Here's what happened. I was in my garden in Norwich, playing with my friend from Paris. I had a fake gun. We were just posing, nothing aggressive but I wasn't thinking. I was being silly imagining something like James Bond. My friend took pictures and he posted them on Instagram, then I posted them. They were not cool pictures but just different.
'On the caption I wrote, 'Practising for the defence of my little girl'. She is two and it was supposed to be a joke about protecting her when she gets older.
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'A friend of mine saw the pictures and told me I could get in trouble. I hadn't realised. Then the gaffer pulled me in his office and told me off. He was angry. I told him straight, 'Listen boss, this wasn't planned.' But I take the blame.
'I deleted the images but didn't comment because I just wanted to let it go – this is the first time I am talking about it. I keep saying sorry to people in the street who come and talk to me.'
Bassong, who was named club captain over the summer went on to say that he agreed with the fine, adding: 'Kids are looking at us. If tomorrow a kid goes and holds a gun, thinking, 'Oh I'm doing this like Bassong' that is not good at all. So I totally understand why people were really angry and I am open to talk about it.
When people come up and say, 'What is this gun story?' I tell them, 'I forgot, I'm sorry, I'm human, but I've got responsibilities.' That's why I took the fine and then hopefully you can move on. You can give me stick but please don't reduce me down to that one incident.'
The centre back also talks to the Daily Mail about racist abuse and his Canary career.
Here's what he had to say:
Gareth Bale is all about confidence. I know having played with him at Tottenham. I signed for Spurs in the summer of 2009 and in that season he wasn't playing.
Then, right at the time he was supposed to go out on loan, Benoit Assou-Ekotto got injured. There were no more left backs so Gareth had to stay and play in that position. I was next to him in defence.
And then, wow. He changed. When Harry Redknapp gave him the confidence he needed, he went flying. He just got better, and better, and better, and better.
Phew. He was bombing forward, taking people on, doing crazy stuff. He could have played on his own down that whole left channel; he was covering all the ground. We saw in training what he was capable of – there was no pressure, he could express himself.
The thing about him was confidence. He's kind of a shy boy, he wasn't talking a lot.
We knew he was really talented but it needed something to wake him up. Harry realised how good he was, changed his position, and now he is the player he is.
It's going to be different if he goes to Madrid. It is one of the biggest clubs in Europe. He is going to arrive in another atmosphere and hang out with proper stars, so he has to create space in the dressing room and earn their respect.
His prospective price tag is not going to help him out. Now he has to be really strong. He'll learn a lot but I don't think it will be easy for the first couple of months.
He has to settle down. British players don't like to move abroad – so for the few ones who are doing it, you've got to be strong. He is moving to a big club, so there is big competition. His team-mates might not help him out. Some of them may. It's a team, but full of individuals. There will be rivalry.
He needs good people around him on his bad days, and believe me, he will have some bad days. If he starts scoring goals in his first few games it will build his confidence and then he will fly.
But he can't take the free-kicks. Not straight away. I remember when my Cameroon team-mate Geremi was playing at Madrid, he was telling me for a free-kick there was him, Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo, and Raul. All of them would be around the ball saying, 'Who is going to take it?'
Gareth isn't the kind of character to fight like that. At Spurs, yes he would take the ball and say, 'I'm taking the free-kick.' But Madrid is a different level. I don't think personality-wise he will say, 'Please, stand aside, I am taking the free-kick.'
I felt I was racially abused twice last season. Once at the ground when we played away at Swansea and once online after I had scored a late equaliser at Everton.
At Swansea a man in the crowd made a gesture I considered racist. When it happens, you don't even realise straight away. It takes you a couple of seconds to go, 'This is for real'. Then the anger is coming out of you. I was fuming, thinking, 'What is going through his head to do such a gesture to me?'
The other occasion was different. It was a young guy, 17, on Twitter in late November.
After it had been reported he said he was really sorry and sent a couple of letters to the club. I forgave this one. I sent him a tweet and said: 'All right.' He is young, he's never going to do it again.
Before that, I've never faced anything like that in England. I don't think this country has a problem.
There are some stupid people all around the world – France, England, Spain, Cameroon. Everyone is trying to get rid of it. Eventually it will disappear.
I joined Norwich after Chris Hughton got in touch with me last summer. It was a big step for me and in truth if the manager were not Chris, who I knew and admired since working with him at Newcastle, I don't think I would have come. But I took the decision in a split second.
I rang my agent saying, 'Yes, yes, yes, yes. I'm going.' He told me, 'You have to be at your best.' I told him, 'Do your stuff and I'll do mine.' I'm a confident player.
I knew we would be battling relegation. I like the challenge. At the beginning of last season most of the media thought we would go down. So that has been my motivation. For me there was no chance we would go down. I would have not let it happen.
The manager has been a defender, and his main objective is to defend well first. Last year was the manager's first year so he didn't want to go crazy, he wanted to keep us safe. This year he has brought some more attacking players in and he can develop the team. He has added quality to the squad.
Nathan Redmond is a good young English boy. He is very lively and in training you just want to take him down because he is always running about. He has pace, can keep the ball well, has good skills and he's still young so he can improve. He's a good lad, bringing something different that we didn't have last season.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel has great movement. He still needs time to get used to the Premier League. It's a different pace to Portugal and Holland and is more physical.
For a striker it doesn't come all of a sudden, he needs to analyse his game. But he's done well, creating things, is always in the box, and making good runs at the right time. He scored a great header so I think he's settled well.