Arsenal frontman Olivier Giroud will be donning the blue of France on Friday night as he leads the line against Romania in the opening game of Euro 2016.
And the striker sat down with Le Figaro to discuss his footballing career and Euro 2016 dreams.
The most perceptive part of the interview concerned his football education as he spoke of how he “didn’t sign for a club at 17 even after years on the training ground” and has always felt that his career has been “step-by-step”.
As Giroud points out, such an experience is mirrored by the careers of several other French players. For every Paul Pogba, who has seen himself catapulted to the pedestal of an international superstar at a young age, there’s a Laurent Koscielny who plied his trade at little known French club FC Lorient until snatched up by Arsenal.
Similarly, N’Golo Kanté, who has been extremely impressive in French warm-up games, five years ago played in France’s eight tier. As Giroud says, “such players have experienced an unusual path and its happening more and more”.
The 29-year-old clearly has great awareness of the responsibilities of the French team and how important it is that they can perform on the big stage. Pundits have recently spoken harshly of how this French team compares poorly to previous French outfits in this context, but such criticism can hardly be leveled at Giroud.
He describes his first cap as “thinking about your family, your relatives, you shiver when you hear your name read aloud in the stadium…. I’ll keep my first jersey for the rest of my life”.
In addition, the Gunners marksman spoke openly about his memories of supporting Franceh at the European Championships and his hope of emulating Michel Platini or David Trezeguet in having a prolific championship. One can’t help but have great admiration for Giroud due to the way he talks of such past greats, and his determination to mirror what they have achieved in the past comes across very strongly.
He refrained from stating France’s goal is to win the tournament outright, but spoke of how “we’re representing all France and it’s our duty to give the maximum and make the public proud”.
Many Les Bleus supporters will feel that such pride can only be aroused should France be awarded the Henri Delaunay Trophy on July 10th and there’s no doubt that, while he avoided explicitly stating it, Giroud intends to drive France to this pinnacle.
Colm Egan, Pundit Arena
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