Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Athletic from his home in Bordeaux, former French winger Julien Faubert discusses his short stint playing for Real Madrid.

We were on the team bus making our way to Upton Park to play Fulham. I received a call from this French guy at Real Madrid and he said to me, ‘Hi, I work for Real Madrid and we have to talk to you.’ I told him I have an important game to prepare for and I don’t have time for this bullshit. I switched off my phone, we played the game and after the match, I switched on my phone and saw around 30 text messages and 50 voicemails. That’s when I knew it was serious. So I called my manager and he said to me we have to talk with Real Madrid because they are in a hotel at Heathrow. It was the last day of the transfer window and we went there and started to negotiate.”

I had many feelings but I was happy — it’s Real Madrid, you know? When I realised it wasn’t fake I was praying for the negotiations to go well. They actually wanted Antonio Valencia but he signed for Manchester United, so I was the second choice. When the deal was completed I came back to collect some of my stuff at West Ham and me and some of the guys started laughing. They were like, ‘Julien, do you realise where you are? It’s bloody Real Madrid.’ I remember Mark Noble kept ignoring me and I was like, ‘Mark, what’s the problem?’ He said, ‘Julien I can’t talk to you, you’re a Real Madrid player. You’re higher than me.’ So there was a lot of banter.”

Faubert’s time on loan at the Santiago Bernabéu is mostly remembered for him being pictured asleep on the bench during a match against Villarreal. He made two appearances for Madrid.