LIVINGSTON NEW boy Cécé Pepe grew up as a footballer with Moussa Dembélé, Odsonne Édouard and Olivier Ntcham – but it is a former Motherwell favourite who he reckons has shown him the way in Scottish football.
Pepe was a youth player at Paris Saint Germain, where he played alongside ex-Celtic striker Dembélé and current Hoops marksman Édouard, and the 22-year-old was also a France under-16 team-mate of Parkhead midfielder Ntcham.
It was a fantastic education for the young French defender but he has been forced to spread his wings since being released by Marseille two years ago.
The 22-year-old spent seasons in Ukraine and Italy before deciding Livingston could offer him a fresh start in the Scottish Premiership.
And, as he prepares for his league debut at home to Motherwell, the Parisian has revealed how countryman Cédric Kipré helped convince him he was making the right move.
Kipré is another of Pepe’s former PSG colleague and left Fir Park for Wigan Athletic in a deal worth a reported £1 million last summer.
Pepe said: “I had a long chat with Cédric before I came to Scotland.
“He played for one season at Motherwell and then won a move to Wigan. He is a good example of what can happen if you do well.
“Cédric spoke very highly about his time at Motherwell.
“I had so many questions for him as he plays in the same position and he was very helpful and gave me a lot of good advice.
“I wanted to come to Scotland because I have always loved British football. I wanted an opportunity to test myself.
“I watched a lot of Premier League football when I was growing up but I also know a lot about Scotland because Moussa Dembélé is my friend and I watched quite a lot of Celtic games.
“I grew up with Moussa and played with him for four years before he went to Fulham. I was in the same team as Odsonne for four years also and I continued to follow them after they came to Scotland.
“Before I joined Livingston I spoke with Odsonne and he told me this was a good country to play football. Speaking to him helped make up my mind, although it was an easy decision.”
Pepe has been charged with filling the defensive void left at Livingston by the departure of skipper Craig Halkett and Declan Gallagher this summer.
He has impressed so far in three starts in the Betfred Cup group games and, after stints with Zirka Kropyvnytskyi in Ukraine and Italian side Rieti, is hopeful of finding his feet quickly in Scotland.
He added: “Scotland provides young players with a good opportunity. I have watched all these guys – Moussa, Odsonne, Olivier and Cedric – do really well and the aim for me is to do the same.
“I need to learn a lot because the game here is so quick and physical but I’m confident.”