Samir Nasri has revealed the remarkable freedom he was given as a Sevilla player by his former coach Jorge Sampaoli, who he said had no problem with the Frenchman going out drinking and to nightclubs as long as he performed on the pitch.
The former France international enjoyed a renaissance with Sevilla under Argentine Sampaoli in the 2016-17 season after spells with Arsenal and Manchester City, leading the team to an unlikely tilt at the Spanish title before they eventually finished fourth.
Nasri, 32, who now plays for Anderlecht in Belgium, recalled his eventful spell at Sevilla — and his unusually close relationship with Sampaoli — in an interview on Instagram on Monday.
“I had a friendly relationship with Sampaoli, he was a friend more than a coach,” Nasri said.
“Sampaoli liked me so much that he said to me ‘Come to our team, you can drink, go to nightclubs, do what you want and I’ll cover your back. All I ask is that you play well on the pitch on the weekend.’
“In fact, one weekend I wasn’t able to play and I wanted to go home and see my family and he offered to watch my house and look after my dog.”
Nasri’s fine campaign began to unravel though after he underwent an intravenous treatment at a clinic in Los Angeles which eventually led to him being banned from football for 18 months for breaking anti-doping rules.
“What happened in Los Angeles ruined my season,” he added.
“It was an injection of vitamins that was legal and I had a prescription but the clinic injected me with a greater amount than I had expected. I was destroyed because I thought I was going to be banned for two years.
“I didn’t want to play any more after that. I even told Sampaoli to leave me out, but he always wanted me to play. I was lost, I was anxious and angry with everything. I didn’t show it on the pitch but football was over for me.”