Christ Tiehi opens up on 'big journey' that's led to him becoming a cult hero at Wigan Athletic

Christ Tiehi has opened up on his 'big journey' that has seen him become a cult hero at Wigan Athletic.
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The 24-year-old midfielder - who was born in Paris but is an Ivory Coast youth international - arrived last month on loan from Slovan Liberec.

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He'd spent the first half of the campaign on loan with another Czech outfit Slavia Prague, but was headhunted by Kolo Toure - an Ivorian legend - to bolster the Latics engine room.

Christ Tiehi was impressive again for Latics in the weekend draw against NorwichChrist Tiehi was impressive again for Latics in the weekend draw against Norwich
Christ Tiehi was impressive again for Latics in the weekend draw against Norwich
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Toure was sacked within a fortnight of Tiehi's arrival, but he has been a staple in Shaun Maloney's rebuild, helping Latics to six points from the new manager's opening four matches.

His settling-in process has been aided by a previous spell in England with non-league Tonbridge Angels three years ago, where he found himself after a proposed move to Bury fell through.

Having come through the ranks at French club Le Havre, Tiehi has already had his passport stamped as often as Judith Chalmers, but he says his roundabout journey has made him ‘the player and person I am now'.

"Yes, it has been a big journey for me," he said. "I started out at Le Havre, in their academy, and I signed my first professional contract there.

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"However, I didn't play so much there, and the opportunity came for me to go to Bury, just after they were promoted from League Two to League One (in 2019).

"Unfortunately that was when they had financial problems, I was only there for one month, and the situation became really bad.

"That's how I came about playing in non-league with Tonbridge.

"It ended up working out really well for me, because I learned so much about English football during that time.

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"I have used all the experiences I have been through to make me the person and the player I am now.

"When you have played in non-league, you know how difficult that is, and how hard players have to work to play at a higher level.

"Playing at this level is a bonus for me and I am really enjoying the challenge.

"Now you have more time on the ball, and you have to think more about your game.

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"Sometimes it is not easy when you have the time to think about things, sometimes it's better when you just have to play."

He's also handled the adjustment between working with Toure and Maloney with the minimum of fuss.

"Sometimes this happens in football," he said. "It's true Kolo Toure brought me here, to do a job for him on the pitch.

"But Shaun Maloney wants exactly the same from me, and they have the same mentality to playing football.

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"I just want to help the team in the best way I can, the gaffer is happy with me and I want to keep doing that."

On the differences between the two regimes, Tiehi added: "It's different because you can see some players are more focused, and some players are making better use of the system.

"For me, the work expected of me is the same whether it was Kolo Toure or now Shaun Maloney.

"It's the same mentality, how they want to play football is the same, so for me things have not changed very much at all."