Kamil Zayatte has claimed he intentionally avoided playing for Sheffield Wednesday in order to be fit to feature for Guinea.
Looking back on his time with the Owls – which ended when he was released from the club last month – Zayatte told a reporter in his home country he put off a return to action, looking to protect himself ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.
“There were times when I even refused to play for my club to be ready for the [Cup of Nations],” Zayatte told Foot224. “My coaches saw I was ready but every time there was a match, I said that I had to wait to return.”
The injury in question was the hamstring problem that kept Zayatte out for almost three months before Christmas.
He was named in the matchday squad for the Boxing Day visit of Blackpool and the trip to Wigan four days later but failed to come off the bench.
Should Zayatte’s startling claim be true, his efforts failed to yield the desired results as he carried an injury into the tournament and he did not play as Guinea were eliminated in the quarter finals after drawing all three group matches.
The 30-year-old has since been forced to defend himself from claims in Guinea that he only travelled to the tournament for the money and knew he would not be fit enough to play. It is an accusation he firmly denies.
Zayatte also revealed he had an operation to put a metal plate in his jaw after suffering a fracture on the training ground late last season.
He says he endured difficult times while with Wednesday, both personally and professionally.
He said: “Personally, I would say that the results are mixed [his time at Wednesday].
“During my two years in Sheffield, I had difficult times. With the death of my mother, mourning. It was very difficult for me.
“Each time I came back to my best level, be it in a club or [national team], there were glitches.
“I was out one to two months and in the time it took me to come back, someone had already taken my place.”
Zayatte managed 26 appearances for the Owls during his two seasons with the club, scoring two goals.