Hugo Lloris: My life as a modern goalkeeper and Spurs captain

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Ahead of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea, the Spurs No.1 has divulged all about his skills as a skipper and a shot-stopper

Widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Hugo Lloris has been pivotal to Tottenham's Premier League title challenge.

Ahead of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley, Goal spoke to the France shot-stopper about what it means to be a goalkeeper in 2017 and how being a captain has impacted the way he approaches matches.


THE ESSENCE OF BEING A GOALKEEPER


"It's a detached position. We don’t wear the same shirt, we have gloves, we play with our hands. It’s a position of great responsibility and it is through that responsibility that we manage to find pleasure in the position. It’s why we feel so important and decisive in matches.

"Ever since I was a small boy growing up in Nice, diving across the ground, I’ve always loved the position. I think it's something innate – that love of diving around, of throwing yourself in front of attackers; it’s not something that can be taught.

"I have always been willing to suffer. But I am also a player, and I like to come out and play with my team-mates. A modern goalkeeper must also be an outfield player.

"When you’re younger, you are more isolated from the group. There was no coach for the goalkeepers so we all just trained together. It is only when you enter the professional game that you begin to have about 30 or 40 minutes of specific goalkeeping training before joining the rest of the group.

"The daily life of the ‘keeper has changed a bit. We feel like we're in another group, one just between us."


THE ART OF BEING A CAPTAIN


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"The captain must be respected, be a leader. The real bosses are the coach and the chairman who take the decisions off the pitch. That’s not my role.

"There are several ways to captain. The most important, I think, is to be who you are. I'm not going to invent a personality. Football is evolving; the mentality of players is, too. You don’t have to live up to the old clichés of what made a good captain. I'm not here to police, but to help my colleagues. Today, the most important thing is to relay information from the coach to the team; to be an example, both on and off the field. And to be performing consistently, because it is on the field that you gain your legitimacy in the role. 

"But it is also important to understand that the captain cannot be alone. Leaders are very important, but only when part of the group.

"On the pitch I need to show energy, have the best attitude and to be sure that the others are ready to do the same.

"Off the pitch, I like everyone to feel free, but I am also aware of the hierarchy. I like rules, but I do not like when there are too many constraints. It must be said that everything that happens away from the field has repercussions on the pitch. The most important thing is mutual respect.

"In England the captain is a very important role. It's something that plays a major part in the culture of English football. Being a captain is a source of great pride for them. But it's funny, because it's never enough for me. I need more. That's how I am.

"There are no ego problems for me in the dressing room. Having a strong personality alongside you in the dressing room is a plus as he can relay [information]. [It’s only] when a strong personality does not have that legitimacy that it can become a problem in the dressing room. Before you are able to pass messages or blame someone else, you must be able to look at yourself.

"On the field, I have always had a strong temperament, even if away from the game I’m quite a relaxed person. I have always been a winner when I get on the pitch. There are experiences that allow us to discover ourselves.

"[The 2006/07 season at Nice] was about the will to not let the season slip away. Then came the play-offs, which helped my personality grow. Everything came naturally.

"I feel confident because I have the respect of the others. I am respected for what I am as a man. I have this faith because of my experience during my career. We are chosen to be a captain. I am who I am. I never try to be someone else.

"The hardest part in football, and even in life in general, is making things simple. I love simple football. But it is complicated to achieve that simplicity.

"It arrives through exchanges, dialogue.

"I think young players need the older ones. [When I was a young player] I was in great need of them. Listening to their messages was very important. There is always something to take on board and something to leave behind, but the older players have experience that allows you to anticipate certain things, to mature quicker. I have very good memories of my interactions with older players."


GOALKEEPER FIRST, OR CAPTAIN?


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"I believe a goalkeeper must boss his entire half of the field. You can see a lot from behind the play. As captain you must play your role and also take responsibility. The two functions are compatible, which is why we see a lot of goalkeepers as captains.

"To be honest, I prefer to say that I’m a team member, rather than a captain. The armband can elevate you [your status], but I prefer to think of myself as an equal."


DOES A CAPTAIN HAVE TO LIFT TROPHIES?


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"That is my motivation, my ambition. Winning matches is one thing, winning trophies is something else. It is always the same clubs that win in football. Because they are great institutions, because they are great teams, with great coaches, great players... it's inspiring to look at these clubs.

"There is also a luck factor that comes into play. I'm with an ambitious club in Tottenham. I find here there is already a big difference between the Tottenham that I discovered on my arrival and the Tottenham you see now. The club is on the rise. It’s thanks to the work of the board but also of Mauricio Pochettino, who is one of the great coaches of our sport.

"We will try to win something before the end of the season. There are two competitions left. To win with your country is also very important. We were very close to doing it last summer, and I want to taste that again very soon."

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