Pros 21.09.2022 — 20:41 Uhr

Caci - Emotional moments against Berlin and Paris

Our new arrival discusses his knack for scoring in the final moments, moving from Strasbourg to Mainz and settling into his new home.

He was the hero of the hour: Anthony Caci secured a point for 1. FSV Mainz 05 in the dying moments of the game after a home match against Hertha Berlin, that was mostly devoid of chances and saw a lulled Mainz attack across the 90 minutes that was, at least for a brief moment, forgettable. "It was an emotional moment and I'm happy to have scored the equaliser in the last second, especially in front of our own fans," the Frenchman said, this being the first major highlight for him in Mainz colours.

A complicated start after leaving youth club

Caci had moved from his the club where he learned the game, RC Strasbourg to the Rhine last summer. "I joined Racing when I was eleven and had a great time there, so it was difficult for me to say 'Au revoir'. But if I wanted to grow up, I felt I had to leave home and get new experiences so I could learn from them," the 25-year-old explained. The move had been confirmed since last winter, when Caci signed a contract at Bruchweg to last through 2026. "It was important for me to have that clarity," adds the Frenchman “With my contract expiring at Racing, Mainz appealed early on”. He started learning German straight away so he could communicate with Mainz teammates, the coaches and the staff. "Since January, I've had one or two hours of German a week. I thought it important to learn the language so I could get used to things quicker," says Caci.

His first weeks at Mainz were a little complicated, with an injury during pre-season and only four appearances in the first seven matchdays off the bench. "Of course, I had imagined it a little differently, but you can never plan for injuries. Unfortunately, I got one during pre-season and that was a bit of a setback. I'm glad that that I’ve worked my way back to fitness and I think I am at a good level. I feel like I used my minutes well, and I want to do that again going forward,” he comments.

I'm glad that that I’ve worked my way back to fitness and I think I am at a good level

Last-minute experience

In the match against Hertha, in which Caci replaced Aarón down the left around the hour mark, the Frenchman repaid his coach's faith, adding flair into the game and notching his longest competitive appearance at the club with his last gasp equaliser. Titi, as he has been affectionately known since childhood, had already garnered attention last season with a last-second goal while playing for RC in his penultimate home game the club – scoring in the 92nd minute to deliver a dramatic 3-3 draw against PSG. “Apparently the last moments of the game are good for me, although I can’t really explain why!” Those last minute goals are important and the ones that stick with you," Caci added, who will certainly not forget his equaliser vs Hertha in a hurry.

Asked if he enjoyed playing against superstars like Lionel Messi, Neymar or Kylian Mbappé in France, the Mainz summer confirms he did: "Of course, it's great to play against the best players in the world. In France, you’ve got Messi, Neymar or Mbappé. But there are top players in the Bundesliga as well, like Sadio Mané, Leroy Sané or Marco Reus – it’s an honour to be competing against them. You can learn a lot from them and see where you can improve your own game," explains Caci.

Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga - differences and similarities

The intensity and physicality in the Bundesliga, he explains is a difference to the game in Ligue 1. "In France, the game is more tactical", with goalscoring being difficult due to compact teams who like to sit deep. "In Germany, the intensity is so high that there are often spaces in the other half, so it's more back and forth," said the summer arrival, who is already feeling comfortable in his new hometown. "Mainz is a very nice city. I feel comfortable here, I've already done a lot with my family, I like the cafés, the restaurants and the people are very friendly. In fact, I'm only an hour and a half away from my home here," says Caci, who was born in the Moselle department near the German border.

The newcomer also likes the family-oriented atmosphere at FSV, and he is already a player who knows about maintaining good relations with the fans from RC: "While it's not the case for every team in France, Racing is a family club, so the fans and the team were always close. It's the same here at Mainz, the fans and the team are tight," said Caci, who sees the similarities between his old and new employers.

Good start to the season, with potential for improvement

The newcomer has a positive outlook on the first seven Bundesliga matchdays, which have seen Mainz pick up eleven points and go into the international break in eighth – but there is room for improvement on a footballing level. “Looking back at it, we made a good start to the season. We can be pleased with our position, it will give us self-confidence," Caci says. On the pitch, the team needs to work on making the most of good phases in the match, and extending them over the 90 minutes – and Caci believes the international break is a good window to achieve this.

On a personal level, the Frenchman wants to further adjust to the intensity of the German game, and improve himself physically. "I’m continuing to work on that, and if I can manage it then a place in the starting XI shouldn’t be too far away," comments ‘Titi’, hoping to earn more minutes down the line.