Tristan Crama put pen to paper on a deal with Brentford B in the summer from French side AS Béziers.
The 19-year-old has been a key man in the back line for the young Bees so far this season, whether that be as part of a back four or a back three alongside the likes of Ben Hockenhull, Kane O’Connor and Aubrel Koutsimouka.
The youngster, who was with Béziers from a very young age, rose through the ranks as a midfielder for the French club before dropping back into central defence with his excellent physicality. Tristan is still getting to grips with his English but says he is loving life at Brentford and has seen his game improve since arriving.
“I’ve been really happy here since I joined,” said the youngster. “I am really enjoying the focus on playing out from the back, which is something I feel suits me and it is nice to play in a team that wants to play like that.
“The first few weeks were a lot of adapting. However, after a few weeks and a few matches I feel in a good place. Compared to France, the intensity and physicality are a big thing, and games here are 90 minutes of going left, right, up, and down which is different to France.
“That physical side of my game is the big thing that I have been working on so far. I’ve also been working on my heading as you come up against a lot of big strikers in England and playing with the ball at my feet because that is a big part of playing at Brentford.”
Having broken into the First Team in his native France, Tristan believes having experience against sides with players older than him when he was no older than 18 has served him well to match himself against sides in England and kick on with his development under Neil MacFarlane.
He continued: “The biggest surprise has been the intensity in training as that is something very different to France but playing with the adults at Béziers was a good thing for me because it is a lot more intense and a lot closer to what I am finding games like here.”
Reflecting on the time spent at his boyhood club, Tristan can’t help but draw comparisons in terms of the team spirit that he has found within the Brentford B dressing room since arriving back in August.
He explained: “I was at Béziers from when I was very small, and they helped me a lot through my career so far. I used to play as a holding midfielder but when I had a growth spurt, they moved me into the defence. That move seemed to really help me and I have got better since moving into defence.
“I see a lot of similarities between Béziers and Brentford because they are both clubs with a very good team spirit. When you are on the pitch for those 90 minutes it is just about the team, there are no individuals out there.
“Neil (MacFarlane) and Sam (Saunders) are really good coaches. They always encourage for the 90 minutes, whether we are winning or losing. They are always behind us and in training they give us lots of advice.”
Settling in a new country with a new language is not always easy for young players, but Tristan says he’s delighted to have fellow Frenchmen in the likes of Aubrel Koutsimouka and Julien Carré, two players who have been with Brentford B since the beginning of the 2019/20 season, on hand to help with translation.
“Aubrel and Julien have been really good for me,” said Tristan. “They’ve helped me to integrate so much as my English isn’t that good yet. I had also never left my family and friends for so long before; it’s four months since I last saw them so having good friends like Aubrel and Julien here has helped me a lot. Some of the accents in the team, like Kane (O’Connor), Lachlan (Brook), and Nathan (Shepperd), are really strong and I have to concentrate a lot to try and understand them!”
But how does that language barrier influence things on the pitch? Tristan was keen to credit the likes of Kane and Ben for helping him to settle in defensively to the team and turn out some impressive performances in the back line.
He continued: “I get on really well with Kane and Ben, on and off the pitch. They try and help me if there are any difficulties with the language. They are helping me a lot with my positioning as well, like in some situations where I may be in the wrong position because I think like a midfielder but, they are helping me with that.
“Looking back on this season so far, we played really well in the first half against Arsenal U23. We had so much of the ball and scored a superb goal. In the second half they had more of the ball than us, but we stayed really solid, and the game against Leicester City U23 was also really good as we scored four goals in the second half to win. Those were the two games that stand out to me.”