Major FF interviews – Jérémy Toulalan, in 2013: “I can look at myself in a mirror”

(The Team)

The major FF talks

For this new episode of these great talks that made the history of France Football, back in 2013 with Jérémy Toulalan and his relationship with the France team.

We are in August 2013. Freshly transferred to Monaco, Jérémy Toulalan receives FF to talk about his new club, but also Nantes, his training club, and the French team. In the shade of the rock wall that overlooks the La Turbie training center, we landed on a bench. It is 30 ° C, easy. It’s hot. The noise of the tractor transporting equipment has sometimes supplanted the song of the cicadas, unleashed, without ever interfering with the conversation with Jérémy Toulalan who started off on new technologies, given his reluctance to answer the mobile phone. “Me, SMS, MMS, Tweeter, Facebook, it does not attract me. ” Neither did the telephone. “I don’t pick up much, many people blame me. Am i wild I do not know. But if it is to say that the weather is nice …As we have understood, it is not easy to tame, satisfied with being thus surrounded by invisible walls which protect it. He lowered them for France Football, for once.

Jérémy, did you hesitate to accept the principle of this interview? You are very, very rare in the newspapers …
From the moment the “Doc” asked me, no. If the “Doc” (Editor’s note : Fabrice Bryand, former CF doctor Nantes and the French team) don’t ask me, I don’t. I have blind confidence in him. When I was young, in Nantes, I was encouraged to speak to the media, I tried to do so but as I am someone stubborn, even stubborn, I always thought that, deep down, I was right. That it wouldn’t bring me anything. I did it because, it seems, it’s part of the job. Actually, I could have done without it, and besides, I do without it. It is a good tool for some players who use it but I don’t.

“In the long term, the work, I stayed the same. I’m a hard worker, a hard worker. ”

Don’t like exercise?
I’m not a fan of being known, recognized. It is even quite the opposite.

You chose the job for this …
I am a defensive midfielder that is accomplished more in effort than in pure talent. However, the people who are in the effort do not interest the newspapers. And then, there are so many who are more talented than me! What saves me is that over time, the work, I have remained the same. I am a hard worker, a hard worker.

Do you like to put yourself down?
No, this is the reality. I think so. I know soccer. I see who has talent and who doesn’t. In addition, I need to be in trouble to accomplish myself. It’s true, I am a fundamentally pessimistic person, therefore rarely satisfied but also rarely disappointed by reality …

Can we talk about the France team?
Today, I don’t really care. I will certainly come back to it one day, but it is too early there. I have only been back in France for a month, it is not the right time. I’m not going to shoot myself in the entrance foot!

People think you’re coming back to France for the Blues …
They are wrong ! In Malaga, I received a preselection each time because I was still competing in the Champions League and the top of the La Liga. And since there are a lot of selected players playing abroad, I suppose that the French staff watched the matches in Malaga. So no…

Not what ?
No, I’m not coming back to L1 for the Blues.

In fact, whenever you were not caught, the current coach found good excuses to ignore you … You have to be frank!
Of course. Now there are also some very good backgrounds selected. Anyway, I have to watch the little communication I do because I don’t like conflicts, even if I have been served … If we say the truths, we make the buzz, and as I can hardly speak without getting to the bottom of things or being politically correct … But I assume everything, I do not regret what I say, even if it is often misinterpreted or if I express myself badly. When I noticed out loud that France 98 criticized the Blues of Domenech which I was part of, I was wrong. France 98 was too general, I should have mentioned names of consultants. Anyway, they recognized each other …

“On Knysna, nobody really knows. Not everything has been said. ”

You do not want to free yourself, to relieve yourself of a weight?
I don’t want to come back to screw up the mess by revealing information that nobody knows. Because, on Knysna, nobody really knows. Not everything has been said. What I’m sure of is that there was a guy who assumed, and it was me. I said what I had done but the others, we didn’t hear them. Nobody…

Have you been the coward of the case?
That’s it ! That’s why I will never like the press that speaks, that speaks, without knowing too much. When you really search, when you want to scratch, you always know. If we just scratch the surface of things … I have the feeling that, because we are well paid, we have the right to be criticized in any way and by anyone. However, I said, I am stubborn but, in addition, I am resentful. Some know it. I gave, it hurt me, I understood. I don’t regret anything, I said what I thought. I can look at myself in a mirror.

Maybe you didn’t have enough credibility?
Probably yes. Only, now, after everything I’ve been through, there’s no point in getting bored! Three years ago, I was told that I was still young, I said O.K. Since then, I saw, I understood, and there …

Basically, the advisers …
They keep their advice to themselves.

Is there a day that goes by without you thinking about the letter announcing the training strike in Knysna, thought by the players but written, in particular, by one of your advisers?
It’s difficult. I was told that the weather … It is true that being in Malaga made me feel good. Going back to the letter, it’s bastard since it was not only my advisor to write it. But I haven’t rocked before, it’s not to do it now. However, at the discipline meeting, on my return from South Africa, I was encouraged to say … Well, no, I’m not the one who will swing! I don’t work like that. After … If I answer you, I sell the wick. If I give a name, it will hurt that person. And I think that in addition, it would make a lot of noise.

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That much ?
Ah yes, yes …!

You say too much or not enough …
I know but I warned. I don’t want to talk about it because it’s not timely. There are matches of the French team approaching, they are important for them and for the coach. We must not divert the news which is to qualify for Brazil.

Coming back to the country called that kind of question, obviously …
It was the first media outing at my first AS Monaco press conference. It was evident. But I live with that, I will live with that. I do not have a choice.

“Yes, I almost stopped everything during my last 2010-11 season in Lyon because it was too difficult.”

In the public mind, you are one of the leaders of Knysna … It was not your destiny, however.
I wouldn’t like to spit in the soup but, basically, I don’t like the middle, so I like it even less now. I know how it is. But if I don’t like it that much, I just have to go! I still have a few advantages to stay, huh … I find my account there. Yes, I almost stopped everything during my last 2010-11 season in Lyon because it was too difficult. But the field would have missed me too much, I realize it every day. When I stop, it’s the only thing I’ll miss, by the way. The extras, never.

This famous letter …
(He cuts, smiling.) Didn’t we say we wouldn’t talk about the France team?

We are not talking about the Blues, but about you … Did you not resent your adviser, who did not advise you not to write the letter and who, conversely, put it in form at your request?
But that’s not the real story! I could explain to you what actually happened, but it’s not up to me to do it. I took my share. Others ? I could have killed some, I did not do it. I repeat myself, when you are honest and frank in the world of football, you are taken in. And this is more and more the case. It’s time to stop … (Laughs.) When I started at the training center in Nantes, I was instilled with collective values, I was encouraged to work for the partner, very well. On arrival, what’s going on? We are very far from reality! Sometimes I wonder if it would not be better to be completely stupid … Like that, we would be used without knowing it.

Guys in 2010 who have the reputation of not being too cons …
(He cuts.) We got fucked. Like what, we’re not that smart! It’s done, it’s done. It will remain a heavy burden for me. The only positive thing in there, without saying that it was an evil for a good, is that this business allowed me to discover other horizons; things that I would not have experienced.

Did you go to Malaga because of this?
Not quite. Lyon needed me to go, financially. I was the only one, in 2011, who could leave OL and since Malaga had so many means at the time, my club benefited from it. I was sold 10 or 12 M €, it’s incredible (10 M €, plus a bonus of 3) ! It was a case to be seized, I understood, admitted. I did not flee!

How did you experience your stay in Malaga? You had two great seasons, didn’t you?
I had the impression of being more appreciated than in France. A curious feeling. I was marked by the welcome from Malaga.

“I am rather paradoxical, in truth”

“In fact, I’m like my father, I would like to be on a desert island.”

In your rare media interventions, you often mention Claude Puel.
An honest and frank personality, who certainly does not give food to journalists, but what a coach, what a manager! If he was at the head of the Blues, there are a lot of people who would not have set foot there, I tell you. It is the coach who comes closest to me, of my functioning in my way of thinking, of doing. You have to know it. The first year, in Lyon, I struggled with him, we took a little head but he is someone so straight! It does nothing behind the back! A normal guy in the end. Someone simple, too. He is himself and I too want to stay myself. This is what I recommend to everyone but it is the hardest to do, because the man always needs to show more. Puel has convictions and does not derogate from them.

It’s hard to have convictions in this world.
It is hard especially to stick to it. It takes personality to stay yourself. Pelligrini, too, has it!

Do you fear this return to France?
Not too much.

Monaco is a bit like Malaga, isn’t it?
ASM is neither Paris nor Marseille. We will play at the top of the table while having a certain living environment. Finally, I go to destinations made for the holidays, without doing it on purpose. In Malaga, these are the two seasons in soccer – I’m going to be thirty – where I lived an almost normal life outside. I loved. In fact, I am like my father, I would like to be on a desert island.

You don’t like people?
With age, a little more but hardly. I prefer to be alone than surrounded. It is difficult because my wife likes to be with people … Me too, I can be good with people but it is not natural. The only one who is not is my father who leaves with his dog and you can’t see him for hours. I would do that, too.

Can you easily put up barriers around you?
No problem ! No one will regret me but I will not regret many people, either. However, everywhere I went, I was appreciated and I appreciated people. I see them with joy, without talking to each other all the time. Ultimately, this character annoys me more vis-à-vis the people of the club with whom I make contacts than with players, teammates. The only one I call regularly is the “Doc”, whom I see because he knew me very young.

“I think today I can say that I got out of it!”

Spain made you grow?
I am more serene with the ball. In La Liga, there is less pressure on the carrier, so there is more time to organize. Suddenly, I progressed. I mostly rubbed shoulders with sacred footballers. My former teammate Santi Cazorla, who left for Arsenal, is a phenomenon, in the truest sense of the word. It is difficult to make stronger, I am surprised that he is not at Real Madrid! I played alongside him the first season: right foot, left foot, it’s just huge. We do not imagine. On a corner, when he shoots from the right or from the left, we don’t see the difference. A bit the same kind of guy as the Portuguese Moutinho in Monaco: they like the ball.

In the eyes of the Malaga public, you were as loved as an Isco or a Cazorla. It’s still curious …
In Spain, more than in France, the public is used to seeing players of this talent. So he also likes what is different. It was huge over there. I wish every player to experience this at least once.

You signed in Monaco when you had Atletico Madrid …
The family wanted to return to France. And Malaga was reluctant to transfer me to Spain, especially to Atletico where there was, however, the Champions League.

And Rennes, was it serious?
Their philosophy interested me. Their four-year contract also because, at ASM, I signed two years. Besides, it is quite possible that I will stop after these two seasons. Finally, that’s what I think today. It was better for Malaga that I signed in Monaco than in Rennes; vis-à-vis the supporters, it was more rewarding to sign there. Now, I think that with Monegasque means, we can achieve the same thing as in Malaga, grow as fast.

Are you paid better than in Malaga?
No, not so well.

In fact, you still wanted to play at the very highest level!
C1 is a fragrance. Especially for me who no longer have the France team. And since I only lived in one World Cup, you know which one … So, I chose the ASM, even if nothing is won because I have little time to hang Europe. We have quality; the key will be collectively. If we want to be together, to play together, we will be there.

You played a quarter-final of C1 with Malaga.
Yes, and without making more noise than that! As with Lyon when, with Puel, we were until the semi-finals, eliminated by Bayern Munich (in 2010). Despite this, what have we been criticized! But, emotionally, in Malaga it was stronger, more exceptional, because it was the first time.

When you go to Malaga, you say that you need to “put yourself in danger”. Is it the same when arriving in Monaco?
We still are, but not in the same way. Here, if it is difficult, I will be in danger but it does not bother me, I am detached from that. There is not much that touches me anymore. I used to hide a lot, but now I have really taken a step back. At the limit, today, there are people who do not even know where I play anymore, if you knew how it pleases me … I think today I can say that I got out ! ”

Patrick Dessault

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