Dacourt relishing fresh start at Fulham

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The Independent Football

Fulham midfielder Olivier Dacourt admits he nearly quit football after his knee injury a year ago - and making a comeback is his motivation rather than proving Jose Mourinho wrong.

The 34-year-old former France international could not get his place back in the self-styled 'Special One's' Inter Milan team after recovering from cruciate-ligament damage but has been given a chance at Craven Cottage.

Boss Roy Hodgson, a former manager at the San Siro, used his Inter contacts to get Dacourt on a deadline-day deal where his parent club pay the bulk of his wages, thought to be around the £80,000-a-week mark.

"In my career I was at big clubs and I have nothing to prove to anyone, just to myself that I can still play because I had the injury to my knee," Dacourt said.

"At the time I wanted to maybe quit football because it was so long that I was out.

"I came back, with the support of family and friends, and wanted to prove I could play football - but I didn't have the chance. I just want to enjoy my football."

Dacourt is still building up his match fitness and may not start against Wigan at the weekend but he is keen to get going in the Barclays Premier League again after previous spells with Everton and Leeds.

It was at Elland Road where he reached the Champions League semi-final. He rates it as his best time in English football.

"We had a fantastic team and the atmosphere was the best that I've felt in football," he said. "I'm surprised and sad at what happened to Leeds - the club and fans deserve to be in the Premier League."

Tottenham, Bolton and Newcastle were also believed to be interested in Dacourt, a player who was popular with Inter fans but now has to help fill the void left by departed Fulham hero Jimmy Bullard, who has moved to Hull.

"If you ask Inter fans, they liked me but I had to go," Dacourt said. "Sometimes when your form is up or down it is your fault but I could not do anything because I wasn't playing.

"I had clubs in Italy and England that I could have gone to but my decision to come to Fulham was after discussions with the manager.

"He had good words and now it is a good opportunity and now I want to play."

Fulham travel to Wigan without a league win on the road this season.

"Our away form is becoming a little bit worrying," admits midfielder Danny Murphy. "We have to start turning good spells in games into points."

Hodgson has been encouraged by striker Diomansy Kamara's return to training, offsetting the disappointment of missing out on bringing back Brian McBride after Chicago Fire refused to allow him to move.