Did you expect to experience this Euro a year ago?
No, I wasn’t projecting myself that far. I was just trying to come back to the best of my injury to start the season well.
At Guingamp, you were always happy and positive. Is this still the case in the locker room of the Blues?
Yes, there is no reason to be sad or unhappy. I take advantage and try to be happy every day. There is no inhibition.
Do you feel some form of additional pressure?
Not really, because with the bubble, we are cut off from everything. We’re not on social media. We are just very focused and very diligent about what we have to do.
I was the player people relied on.
In the media, do we pay more attention to the words we use?
There are some very high level players here who are used to it. This is also the case in their clubs. On my side, it took longer but now it is. Even in Germany, you have to be very careful of what you say.
Germany, precisely. What did these first two seasons teach you at Mönchengladbach?
That I grew up and that I had responsibilities. I arrived as a young man and today I know that I am a man. I also learned that every game counts and that the seasons are long. There are ups and downs in a season, but the most important thing is to stay on course.
Today, your goal is to gain consistency?
No, it’s more about performing and working on each training session.
Did you learn about yourself?
Yes, and this is the case with the Blues too. Every day I try to learn about myself.
Were you aware of the potential you are developing today?
I always knew, even at Sochaux or Guingamp, that in my club I was the player who had to make the difference. The reviews were a bit harder on me, but that was to be expected. Now I understand that, which was not always the case back then. ” Why me ? I said to myself. But I knew I had the qualities to make a difference. I was the player people relied on.
Did it help you become the player you are?
Having a very young leadership helped me. This was especially the case during my second season at Guingamp after the departure of Jimmy Briand. And even in Mönchengladbach. At 23, I was the leader of two teams and, obviously, that developed something in me.
Isn’t it complicated to keep your head on your shoulders when you play for the France team at 23? Is it a question of education?
I don’t know if it’s an education issue. Many players have worn the blue jersey during their careers. We are elected at the time, lucky and I think that if we want to come back to it, we have no choice, we have to keep our heads on our shoulders.
The child who had arrived at Guingamp was no longer the same when he left. I grew up there a lot.
You have made smart career choices. Does that underline the importance of the entourage?
I am convinced that whatever path you take, you have to take it and go all out. This is what I have always done. With my father (Lilian, Editor’s note), we have a relationship of trust. When he says something to me, I listen to him. And vice versa. We try to move forward like that.
What did he tell you after knowing you were on the Euro list?
He congratulated me and told me he was very proud of me.
Does it help to have grown up in the world of football?
I think, because I have discussions with my father. I have experienced some things that have saved me time.
What do you keep from your two seasons in Guingamp?
A lot of memories. A fantastic group. The child who had arrived at Guingamp was no longer the same when he left. I grew up there a lot. I have met people like Étienne Didot, Jérémy Sorbon, Lucas Deaux, Nolan Roux. I have met adults, in fact, who had many professional seasons behind them. They saved me time.
Are there any anecdotes you still have?
There are plenty, between the group of older players that I have just mentioned and the Marcus Coco, Ludovic Blas, Cheick Traoré, Félix Eboa Eboa. The locker room was going very well.
On a personal level, what would a successful Euro be for you?
It necessarily goes through the collective aspect. It would be a Euro at the end of which the group would have no regrets.
Does the technical level change a lot in the France team?
The requirement and the level of concentration are much higher. So the technical level too. Just look at the list, there are only great players.
Is it difficult not to change your playing and still be so into percussion and risk taking?
It is not in my nature to change. When I went from Sochaux to Guingamp, things went a little faster so I had to adapt. This was then the case when going from Guingamp to Mönchengladbach. During these different stages, I never changed my game. It’s like that and that’s also why I’m here. It would therefore be a mistake to try to do otherwise.
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