For second-year Orlando City defender Lamine Sané, it’s simple for him to understand the journey his teammate fellow centreback Robin Jansson has been through to get where he is today.
On the field, they play similar positions as central defenders. But it’s off the field, though, that they share a corresponding path that required working jobs outside of soccer while they waited for their first big opportunity.
Sané, 32, worked at warehouse unloading trucks for two years in southwestern France before he signed a contract with Ligue 1 side Bordeaux in 2008.
Jansson, 27, worked at a horseshoe factory in Sweden before signing with AIK during their 2018 Swedish championship season.
It’s because of those humble beginnings, Sané instantly clicked with Jansson when the Swede arrived at Orlando in March ahead of the 2019 MLS season.
“I was working before I signed my first contract, and we have a similar story,” Sané told the Orlando Soccer Journal. “For two years, I unloaded trucks and put packages in other trucks to go to different places and then eventually I signed my first contract with Bordeaux and the following year I was playing in the [UEFA] Champions League. That’s why I think it’s crazy because everything changed so fast for me just like for him (Jansson).”
While both Jansson and Sané hail from different parts of Europe, one thing stayed the same and that’s their lives, though in distinct time periods, took a stroke of fortune and has them playing together at Orlando City.
And it’s that same never-ending determination that displays itself on the field.
“We enjoy playing together,” said Sané. “I trust him a lot, but not just him but all the defense because we’re doing very well. But he’s a good teammate. We have a really good relationship. It’s easy with him because we listen to each other, he covers me all the time. We connect all the time, how we play, I trust him like I can close my eyes in the defense, and he’s there. He has very good energy and puts excellent effort.”
The pair roommate together and Jansson said it was Sané who’s helped him transition to playing in MLS.
“I think we’re finding each other really good on the field,” said Jansson. “We read each other, we almost know what the other guy is going to do. We cover for each other, so it feels good and it’s getting better and better. We’re improving together.”
“Lamine is a great guy, we talk a lot and joke together and I think that’s important,” he added.
As far as getting results, the centerback duo has proven they can put in the required work.
The Lions so far have earned four shutout wins this season — those last three, however, have come when Jansson and Sané have featured as centrebacks in a four-man backline.
Why have they been so effective? head coach James O’Connor points at their relationship and how they’re able to manage the team’s defensive principles.
“Both of them have shown a good partnership,” said O’Connor. “When you look at it, they seem to complement each other. I thought in that particular game [last Saturday] I thought early they did a fantastic job. I thought they did a good really good job managing.”
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