'I gave everything' - Every match has a meaning for Forest star Serge Aurier after brother's death

Serge Aurier Credit: ITV News Central

There's a big smile when Serge Aurier greets myself and camera crew Kelly in the Dome at Nottingham Forest's training ground. He'e just done interviews with papers and the BBC and though he jokingly complains about doing one more, he looks happy to see us.

When Forest were assembling a squad that they hoped would keep them in the Premier League, experience became key. Serge Aurier was their 22nd signing back in September. For a player who's dined at Europe's top table, this was a big move for him and for Forest. 

The Ivory Coast international has played at some big clubs and those chasing European honours - Paris Saint Germain, Villareal and Tottenham Hotspur. It made his free transfer to the City Ground all the more intriguing. 

Instead of chasing glory in Europe, Aurier would be part of a team that would have to battle to survive their first season back in the Premier League. More players joined after him and even before facing massive clubs week in week out, the challenge of bonding with 30 new teammates was certainly a new experience. 

"I've never gone down in my life," he says when thinking about the possibility of being relegated and though he's no longer at Europe's top table, he considers the magnitude of games similar.

"For us every game is like the Champions League because we need to fight and we need to win."

Forest fans certainly have seen this determination from their players. The first part of the season was tough for everyone and there's no disguising that. 

The reds were bottom after ten games and in the bottom three at the start of the new year having suffered crushing defeats to Arsenal and Manchester City. But Steve Cooper and his side have turned things around and are now 13th with a big game against Everton to come.

Aurier has been injured recently but is getting back to full fitness and though being at Forest is different, he's enjoying his time here.

"I love the fans, they are amazing. Everywhere we go, we feel they are with the team," he said.

It's that kind of support which has turned the City Ground into a mini fortress this season, getting points there that on the road seem harder to come by. 

If Forest are to stay up this season, they'll need resilience and that's something Aurier has in abundance.

'The objective in my head was to help my family and become a footballer.'

As a young child he moved to France with his family and admits he hasn't had an easy life. He's full of admiration for his mum who he says always worked very hard.

At the age of ten, he left home to pursue his football career in order to help his family. 

"I gave everything, my best. This is life. When you fight for something, you believe you can get it."

Aurier also wants to give back and help young players because he recognises how tough it can be to make it professionally and he sees it as his job to help everyone. 

But he's also taking on extra responsibility these days at home too after a personal tragedy.

His brother, Christopher, who was also a professional footballer, was shot and killed in 2020. Aurier was in England at Spurs and despite the pain, walking away from the game was never an option.

He admitted that he always tries to stay positive and will never cry publicly - preferring to do it behind closed doors. 

'I miss my brother a lot, but when I score I know he's happy.'

"Life doesn't stop when you die. It was a bad moment for me, but I played for Spurs in the game after to show my mum that I'm here."

Aurier says that when he plays or scores, he thinks of his brother and he knows that he would want him to carry on - so he plans to continue to fulfil Christopher's wishes.

What really struck Aurier though was how much his brother did for the family. It was only when he died that this was realised. Christopher was always there for Aurier and his mother and so now, Aurier sees it as his job. 

"He did everything for my mum and I never had the time... When I lost him, I realised that he did a lot of jobs for me. He did everything for me. It's my job now, and this is what I miss. I miss him."

The death of his brother brought pain but also a different perspective for the player whose positivity radiates from him, even though times have not always been easy. 

It's this mixture of determination, smiles and experience that will no doubt serve him and Forest well in the months to come.